As I've gotten older, I've begun to realize that there's nothing better than a day devoted to remembering all of the blessings in my life. When I was young I thought this aspect of Thanksgiving (sitting in a circle and discussing what we were thankful) was extremely boring. What I loved most about the day was seeing my cousins and playing from morning to night, avoiding the kitchen duties. So, in a way I kept the spirit of Thanksgiving, because I was fully enjoying the life God gave me before I even was aware what a gift that life was. As I grew older and lots of the day's responsibilities began to fall on my shoulders, I spent the day cooking, cleaning, and entertaining guests. And again, I think I kept the spirit of Thanksgiving in sharing with others and enjoying their company, even though I was a too caught up in the day's events to spend much time thinking about what the day was for.
Now that I am truly an "adult" (hah, I still don't really feel like one, does anyone?), one way I have grown into that role, whatever it means, is that I finally do what you're supposed to do on Thanksgiving, properly. I can't help myself: all day long I go down the list of God's blessings and I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness. Thankfulness for His salvation. For the way He's been there for me throughout my whole life. When I was ten, and and He saved me, and I felt Him say that I was His child and would never leave me, I didn't know, and couldn't possibly know, what that would mean for me. 26 years later I'm beginning to get an inkling.
What I've found is that my life works. And it's a miracle.
Ben and I are so happy together, even after being married for 18 years. That's a miracle. I have seven healthy, beautiful children, but even more than that, as they grow older, they have become my best friends and are amazing people to be around. That's a miracle! I have a group of close friends that I interact with several times a week, that follow God. We have known each other for years, and we love each other, and have grown closer and closer with every passing year. That's a miracle. And in my personal life, every single time I have had a doubt, or a question, or a fear about a situation, I have asked God to answer it and put my worries to rest. And He has never failed me. The truth has always set me free. And that's a miracle.
Someone asked Ben once if he would continue to believe in God if it could be proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Jesus had never existed. I think that person was a little surprised at Ben's answer, which was, "Of course I wouldn't continue to put my faith in something that was proven to be false. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the substance of things that, in reality, exist, even if I can't see all of them now. If faith is placed in something that is false, then we have placed our hopes on something that will never come to pass and our faith is misplaced. If faith is placed in the right thing, then time will reveal that that faith was not misguided, and that reality and faith, down the road, will coincide with each other."
In short, truth works. Lies don't.
Today, at the age of 36, I have certainly not done everything perfectly. And I have had my ups and downs and messes and mistakes. Big ones. But even though it isn't perfect, there is absolutely no doubt that my life works. And the fact that it works is proof that the foundation I've built it on has not been faulty. My life wouldn't work today if its foundation was made of a fantasy. I've lived on this earth for 36 years and if my faith were misguided my life would be terrible. And it's not terrible. Instead, it's wonderful.
And there's something further than just doing your best to make things in your life work. Time and time again, when trying to live the right way, I've come up short. Yelled at my kids. Hurt a friend. Argued, no, fought with my husband. A lot. God has made a way for that, too. He's full, actually He's abounding, in something called grace. Grace for help in the time of need. Grace that lets me stand, even when I've fallen. Grace that gives me strength where I am weak. Grace that fills in those gaps in our lives while we grow. Life would be impossible without that grace.
When Ben and I got married, and we were both the most stubborn human beings you'd ever met, God's grace was there, to show us how to live together in harmony, and believe me, those first years of our marriage were closer to cacophony than a symphony. His grace covered our sins and our marriage survived the chaos while we grew. When Cate was born and I became a mother, and had no clue what to do, and I still felt like a kid myself, God's grace was there to give me wisdom how to be a parent, and in the meantime, it filled in the gaps where I lacked knowledge, patience, responsibility. Grace for help when you need it. And who doesn't need help?
It's just a miracle.
So, a day in which to reflect on God's miracles has turned me, in my old, wizened, adult state, into a blubbering, grateful mess. And if that's what it means to have the spirit of Thanksgiving, then I fit the requirements perfectly.