Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I just love getting together with family whom I love and sharing fellowship over a wonderful meal and gathering in homes full of warmth in cozy sweaters with fireplaces blazing…complete with the nostalgia of football, board games and parades and the same old recipes…remembering the purpose and to Whom we give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us. It’s also always kind of annoyed me that Thanksgiving seems to be overlooked by Christmas and summed up into one category…The Holidays. Right after Halloween retailers begin shoving Christmas down our throats and at least 5 houses on our street already have their Christmas lights up…mostly because of the warmer weather we’ve been having I’m sure. Not at the Benham abode…we must first give thanks!
Don’t get me wrong…Christmas is so very important…the meaning by which we have hope, peace, love and joy in celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…Immanuel…God with us…the true reason for the season. But without first being truly thankful…can we fully appreciate the reverence of Christmas? I believe there is a reason Thanksgiving comes first. I’ve decided to really focus on gratitude this Thanksgiving by not skipping ahead to Christmas since it is the first year I’ve been so incredibly thankful for what God has continually done in my life…by what he has overwhelmingly done in my heart this past year. A year of really seeing Him…feeling Him near…day in and day out.
Last year at Thanksgiving my heart was so full….I didn’t think it could hold any more. I was so deeply thankful for my dear, loving husband, our 3 healthy, amazing children, a warm home and the blessing to be able to be with my children every single day. I was living something better than a fairytale…immeasurably more than I could’ve ever asked or imagined. What could better than that? Little did I know I was on the brink of it spilling over. This year…my heart isn’t simply full…it feels like it absolutely overflowing. If I could have looked forward to today 1 year ago I would not have recognized myself. What changed?
In one act of obedience last Christmas, in doing the unthinkable and sharing my deepest, darkest secrets with what felt like the world…that one step of faith…God did so many things. He opened my heart and began healing me…He broke down the walls of shame and pride…He finally set me free from the silent torment and years of being locked up in my own skin by revealing the horrendous pain I live with everyday and what I allowed it to do to my spirit…how I covered it up and refused to allow others to see it…how I lived with the Lord carrying me but didn’t share His marvelous work in my life with even those closest to me. How I had been so, so wrong.
I say I am grateful for things unseen…for God taking the burdens off my heart and repairing the cracks and scars and bruises from a life of wearing a mask of perfection…something that could not have been further from the truth. No one can see the perpetual hurt that still exists in my arms, legs, hands, feet, neck and back…and while I never would’ve chosen it…I really am thankful for it. No one can see my mended heart that no longer aches from its owner demanding it be silent. But I pray that others can now see the joy of the Lord which is my strength…that I felt before and perhaps glimpses shown through the suppressed fear and unallowed vulnerability…that now I can’t help but unleash. I pray that now others can see the Lord…and not me.
My list of what I am thankful for goes so much deeper than ever before. This is my attempt to put it down so I will remember this incredible transformation in just 1 years time. I am so grateful that God shows up each day…that I hear Him…that I desire Him…that He has healed my heart…which is so much more meaningful than if He had healed me physically…that my spiritual eyes have been opened to a new level of understanding which I acknowledged before but simply buried thinking my heart was simply full. Perhaps the whole point…what has finally been revealed to me…is to have an overflowing heart…so others can see the wonders of His love. Otherwise…am I not just spiritually hoarding? Isn’t the point to give it all away anyway in perpetual worship unto the Lord? My belief must be something I do…not simply something I possess…stored up in case I need it. Going through the motions without an engaged heart is simply unacceptable. If I believe what I say I believe and everything belongs to Him who gives it…I must give it all back…give it all away. What God has shown me is that is how I am continually filled by streams of His living water in which I will never thirst again. The river of life must flow through me…not be dammed by the pride of my fearful, doubting heart. My heart cannot simply be full. In order to live fully in Christ…it has to overflow for others to see what is unseen…for others to believe in Whom they cannot see.
Thanksgiving for me is no longer a list of tangible things I am grateful for…it is no longer merely the ritual of family, food, fellowship, fires and football. I will never think of it the same way again just as Christmas will forever be changed in my heart and mind since nearly 1 year ago. The gratefulness I have to the Lord for what He has done in my life is something that I can only show by giving Him myself and allowing His love to flow through me. Love so amazing ,so divine…demands my soul, my life, my all. Happy Thanksgiving my dear friends who have walked with me on this amazing journey. May your heart be overflowing with the immeasurable wonders of His love!