Recently, I left for a speaking trip feeling poorly physically and frazzled emotionally from a variety of challenges that felt weighty in the moment. The events had been planned for months and were important to me, and I doubted I was up to delivering anything close to my best.
Before I left for the airport I begged God to give me peace about the days ahead and strength to accomplish what he intended to happen. I asked for perspective and even joy as the days unfolded. Then moment by moment I saw that prayer answered positively and powerfully.
My core recovery sisters immediately responded to my appeal for support and key others were available when I needed them during the following days. My physical strength rebounded (adrenaline is a good thing) and my pain largely subsided. In myriad ways practically, relationally and spiritually I was certain of God’s provision, despite a number of sizable and sometimes annoying challenges. I frequently felt a huge internal grin of gratitude.
Several days after getting home I wanted to capture the experience and sat down to journal. I started with making a list of the pluses and minuses about the trip. Though the positive column was twice as long, I realized that what stood out to me in retrospect were the negatives. The buoyancy of all the encouraging moments was gone; yet each one was solid and uplifting at the time.
As I sat with loved ones at the Thanksgiving table and we followed our tradition of each sharing what we’re grateful for, I reflected that sometimes the most sustaining experiences are in the moment. Yes, in the big picture named perspective, I have so many blessings to be thankful for – unbelievable testimonies of multi-dimensional healing in my life and in generations of those I love, including welcoming the future daughter-in-law who joined our Thanksgiving celebration for the first time this year.
Realistically, though, it’s gratitude for individual moments that offers the daily sustenance of life. My heart is immediately captured by the thoughtful and passionate responses of some Bethesda Workshops staff who responded on Thanksgiving Eve to my email, the gleeful, food-smeared face of our youngest grandson, the radiant smile of our son’s fiancé as she displays her engagement ring, the traditional holiday dish steaming on the table, the ancient oven that heated up a few more times when I thought it was a goner, a sweet conversation a brother and I shared as we talked about our mother who died just before Thanksgiving when we were very young, the mobile phone that lets me receive greetings from loved ones far away, the dance of the flames in the fireplace, the companionship of our beloved dog, our other grandson’s pure delight as he helped string Christmas tree lights, the warmth of my electric blanket as I turned in for the night, and on and on. When I’m aware, each unspectacular moment is a reminder of God’s bounty and opens my heart to gratitude.
The invitation from the apostle Paul to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18) is a call for awareness of life’s goodness moment by moment. As Thanksgiving transitions into Advent and Christmas, I pray for a heart to notice the everyday gifts of grace and to respond with gratitude.
Marnie C. Ferree