Welcome back to guest poster Lauren Fitzgerald! Today’s post encourages us to thank God for our challenges…the hard stuff that shapes our character…in addition to all of our lovely everyday blessings. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers! We hope you and yours have a enjoyable holiday weekend! ~Kristen, Keli, & Ashley
Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Feeling that familiar, “I’ve overcommitted myself” lump in your throat yet?
As I write this, I’m trying to finish packing for a plane trip for four, while making three different dishes for the preschool Thanksgiving performance, while squeezing in a quick one-night business trip. All while trying to get ahead on some Christmas to-do’s that will otherwise be waiting for me when I return from our trip. Too many hats this week ladies, too many hats. I need to go re-read my own words.
Ah, yes, the holidays.
I’ve had something on my heart lately that I want to share with you as you prepare to gather and be thankful with those closest to you this week.
I know many of us will spend time over the next few days focusing on the blessings we have. And if you aren’t planning to, I highly recommend you set aside a time to do so. Even if you get up a little early on Thanksgiving morning, just to reflect in the stillness before the chaos ensues.
When we focus on our blessings, our minds immediately go to the “easy” ones, right? We’re thankful to live in a country that allows us to worship freely, we’re thankful for family and friends who love us, we’re thankful for our health, and that we have more food, clothes, and “things” than we could ever really need.
From there, your list probably starts to get more specific. Last year, my family made a thankfulness tree where everyone wrote down things they were thankful for and hung them on the tree. Answers ranged from control top pantyhose to Caillou (definitely not written by me) to the cat.
But not one person wrote a challenge or difficulty from the year on those little scraps of paper.
You’re probably thinking “Well, of COURSE not.” Because the hard stuff isn’t the stuff we want to revisit. It’s not the stuff you want to hang publicly on a tree. Your difficulties and challenges from the past year may be the very things you’re trying to forget. But you know what?
Now I don’t know you personally, and I don’t know what this year was like for you. But I know many ladies who are dealing with really hard things…like battling cancer, losing a loved one, losing a job, enduring financial troubles, feeling alone or incomplete, and so so so many others. To those of you dealing with challenges of any kind (which is pretty much all of us), I am praying for you as I type these words.
This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to really think about your year thus far. What have your biggest challenges been… emotionally? Physically? Spiritually?
Ladies, do not bury these challenges deep down, hoping to forget them with time. If you try to forget the hard things you had to endure this year, you are truly missing out on two big blessings:
Deuteronomy 4:9 says:
“Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (NIV)
You’ve heard the phrase, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Do not miss the opportunity to learn from the challenges you’ve endured this year. Reflect on them, write down the lessons you’ve learned. Teach what you’ve learned to anyone that will listen. Teach it to your children if you have children. Every single difficulty in our lives comes with lessons learned. Being open and honest about these things could very well save someone else the heartache of having to learn the lesson themselves. Or at the very least, you could help someone feel like they aren’t alone in their struggles.
1 John 5:14 says:
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. “ (NIV)
I’m sure you’ve prayed to God quite a bit about the challenges you’ve faced this year. You’ve probably poured over scriptures, maybe even cried out to Him. This verse in 1 John is an excellent reminder that God heard every one of your cries. Every thought. Every whisper. And He answered each one in some way, even if it wasn’t answered in your way. God isn’t Santa; we don’t make a list, send it off and get things exactly the way we want them. And I am SO thankful for that. God knows so much better than we do, and His will is perfect. He has you in his arms my friend, and He is answering you. Are you listening?
Tomorrow, take a minute to reflect back not just on the lovely memories and blessings you have around you, but at the challenges you faced this year. Maybe don’t hang them on a tree next to “Caillou” and “pantyhose.” But reflect on them. Learn from them. Grow from them.
Because challenges can be blessings, too. If you let them.
Lauren is a wife to Tony, mother to Lydia (4.5) and Trey (3), and the Managing Director of The Mom Complex in Richmond, Virginia. When she isn’t working with companies like Lego, Walmart, and Discovery to make motherhood easier, you’ll find her playing dress up or kicking a soccer ball in the backyard with her kids, heading out for a run, speaking at ladies days, or playing manhunt with her husband and the youth group at the Hopewell Church of Christ.