Far easier is it for me to imagine that I am a woman of thanksgiving than it is to actually live in thanks.
When pressed most of us would claim gratitude. However, accessing a life of bounty isn’t always clear and in the midst of the ragtag, touch and go game of life: being a woman of thanksgiving can feel like drudgery.
At times the brokenness in this world eclipses my ability to be thankful, moves the small snippets of joy from my vision into the background as my sleepless and emotional heart run amok, weeping at the smallest tragedy, or worse griping at those I love.
Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
If you wonder what His will is for your life, look no further than this gem written by the Apostle Paul. No mincing words, no long winded explanations, exceptions, caveats or watering down of exactly what it is we are expected to do as Christ followers. Every morsel of His perfect will is fleshed out completely in these lines.
Confession: there are many times I read Scripture and feel defeated and small, void of all hope that His will may actually come to fruition in my life, relationships and home.
I love Paul.
But his call that I should celebrate always can rub me in all the wrong ways.
And is it truly possible to pray constantly and give thanks no matter how frazzled, frustrated, heartbroken or fearful I am?
Outside the grace of Jesus and power of the Holy Spirit, no.
It is when I come to this reality that I am able to settle down, settle in and let my failures, broken walk and rapid decline of thanks release me.
Yes, I have said it before and I will say it again: I love my shackles. My chains and my confining cage are so comfortable to me and so familiar, I forget that freedom is sweeter.
There are no limiting factors to the ways in which I can create an ungrateful dialogue in my head, rearranging all aspects of my life, all of the promises and prayers answered just to usurp my joy in order to wander in circles, grinding my well worn path a little bit deeper.
This is what I know. This is likely what you know too.
We inflict suffering.
We bend until we break a thousand times over.
We cry out to our God but our prayer is all wrong: self-centered and intricately bound to the ways in which we identify with our own pain, worry, anxiety and fear and forget that our identity is in Him.
We trade in our connection to Jesus for a lesser version of god.
We tell ourselves that our circumstances are outside the realms of constant prayer, celebration and continual thanks. We tell ourselves that He isn’t enough for our problems. We tell Him He isn’t enough when we step outside His will for our lives: celebrating always, praying constantly (or at least consistently), and giving thanks when we really want to shake our fist and demand answers for our strife.
Perhaps my prayer life could look more like thanking God for Jesus, for His Spirit indwelling in me and the ways in which He is invested in my life and less like the begging and pleading I can do for things I think I need and things I think I want. It is so easy to forget to be thankful when what we offer thanks for is stuff/circumstances, rather than recognizing that He is all we need and we already have Him!
When I take my eyes off the world and my personal little kingdom and recognize that I have Jesus, the only response I have is celebration, praise and gratitude no matter what is swirling around me.
I have Jesus.
He withholds nothing from me.
He makes space, expands my heart, prompts me to joy, praise and thanksgiving all the while girding me on in anticipation of the abundant life He has laid out for me.
When I take my gratitude and attention off myself and attach it to the loving Father I have, I am able to truly breath, move and live in thanks.