Choosing Thankfulness (Part 5)

Choosing Thankfulness:

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Wow. What a week. I think this might be the last post in this series. I’ll still try and post things weekly, but the topic will probably be something different from thankfulness. This is simply because there are new things I feel I should write about from week to week, new lessons that God is teaching me. Does this mean I’m done learning about thankfulness? Ha, goodness no. Just yesterday I fell into complaints and whining, and then pain as a result. I’m still being trained to see everything in the eyes of gratitude.

But the school year’s started, summer’s come to a close. A new season begins, a new routine develops, and new circumstances bring new lessons my way that I don’t want to forget.

I posted a while ago under my “About” section “Why I Blog”. I forgot to mention one other reason – it’s to keep a record of God’s hand in my life for my own good, as well. I sometimes go back to see old posts and remember the lesson anew. I remember His goodness. I remember His wisdom. Yes, I say remember, because I forget. First and foremost,  I keep this blog to praise His sovereignty, testify to His goodness, and encourage others. Secondly, I make a permanent record so I can remember.

This week was utter chaos. As for many other young adults, this was my first week of school. My final year of schooling, too. This week I was confronted with clashing schedules, misunderstandings, rushing to meet deadlines and appointments, and unfortunately, a complete lack of focus. My additions to my thankfulness list this week were few.

It’s easier to live numb when life is rushing and pushing and pulling. It’s simpler to close your eyes to God’s graces and move from one thing to the next, just barely getting through, but checking it off the list.

But is it really? Searching for those graces takes work, yes. This week I was bombarded with memories of times before the painful loss I went through this summer, refreshing that pain. Even when I found the strength to control my conscious, my subconscious betrayed me in my sleep with dreams. I was constantly on the move, trying to live up to the promises I made to school, work, and other people, often falling just below par in my eyes. Yes, finding gifts in this takes work. And I did not want to take the extra time for that work.

But the peace. The benefits, the joy, the calm.

374. Cancelled class

Wednesday morning, a class was cancelled. The first class of that course. This is unbelievably rare, as any college student will know. Monday and Tuesday had been ridiculously long. I had to reschedule my new work schedule last minute when I found out I had misunderstood the times for another class and had to remember to stop at that store for an errand and don’t forget to put gas in the car, Emily, you kind of need that and maybe you should eat before you go babysitting but don’t forget to balance that errand in your checkbook and pack your backpack for tomorrow.
I honestly could not believe it was only Wednesday. Hadn’t at least 4 days had passed??
Emily, be still! I heard God say, and I repeated it to myself numerous times afterwards. But I just couldn’t! When was I supposed to have time to be still?
So Wednesday morning came. I apparently shut off my alarm in my sleep and woke up two hours later. I had a while to just take it slow. To be still. If I wasn’t going to make time on my own, God was going to throw it in my lap and pull me in. The rest of the day, although chaotic at a glance, was much more bearable once I had taken the time to give thanks, pray, and let God go before me. More than bearable, I was able to be alive, aware of the moment. And have an unexplainable feeling of peace and quiet joy. Cancelled class was not time to catch up on work or sleep like I admit I anticipated. It was scheduled by God for me to meet Him and regather my focus. I am incredibly thankful for that.

376. His provisions being enough

This week, I kept finding enough.
Enough time to complete tasks and meet deadlines.
Enough gas to make it home safely.
Enough food to keep me from going hungry.
Enough energy to finish the day.
His grace is enough.

380. Familiar faces

Too many goodbyes happened these last couple weeks, and the time to say those goodbyes are never sufficient for how much I am missing these people. Seeing people I knew at school, even if we were never close, was so good. Just seeing faces that I could put names to and who knew my name dispelled a lot of anxiety and even some heartache. I took these faces for granted before, and now they were faces of comfort. Each time I saw another person I knew, I couldn’t help but do a little dance inside, smile, and pray a giddy “Thank you!”

368. Challenged Faith

Monday was rough. As I said earlier, being bombarded with memories of times now long gone, saying goodbyes, and starting a new routine was challenging for me emotionally. Yeah, I’m a sappy , emotional girl. I asked for prayers the day before for peace, comfort, and joy, and they were answered in an unexpected way.
I’ve had my faith challenged before. But when I sat in class with a new professor, I was not expecting the belittling I received.
While she was giving out the syllabus and introducing the class, I was working hard to hold back tears. I was immersed in my own vulnerability and sadness and I couldn’t get my mind off of it. I kept watching the clock, praying for relief, and turning toward the wall to hide my face. When we introduced ourselves, I mentioned that I came from a small, religious community and that I was a Christian.
“Okay,” said my professor. “What does that mean? What do you mean by ‘I’m a Christian’?”
I explained that it meant I believed Jesus died for my sins, and that I believed through faith that I was saved. She cut me off, “Okay, okay. But lots of people believe in a god. The people in Israel and Syria believe in gods and they believe their actions are right. All I’m saying is that there are lots of beliefs that all are essentially the same.”
I tried to differ, explaining that I truly was Christian and my belief was in the one God, but she continued. “I’m going to have fun arguing these things with you this semester.” And she carried on with the syllabus.
How was this an answer to the prayers of believers and my own prayers?
In that moment where I had to defend my faith, my focus was turned away from myself and to God, and solely God. I thought that I was focusing on God during my pleas for mercy, but I didn’t realize until after that challenge of my faith how much I had been looking at myself. In that short conversation, I was pulled out of my small tent of comfort and thrown onto the battlefield, forced to defend my Lord and turn my eyes to Him. The misery left and was replaced with an awakened spirit, and it made all the difference.

The last thing I want to mention is again, the body of Christ.

The Body of Christ

How beautiful it is to have loving individuals that I can go to for prayer. Met with a potentially life-changing decision this week and needing a quick answer, I was frightened on top of my stress from my schedule. I knew I’d need to pray. But as I have learned many times before, I couldn’t possibly go this alone. Especially with this schedule, the time I’d have to devote to pure thought and prayer wouldn’t be nearly sufficient on my own. A quick group email requesting prayer brought the support of wonderful people with encouragement, love, and promises of prayer for wisdom. Their words were uplifting in moments that I needed them.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b) Many righteous, Christ-strong disciples gave prayers for me, and I was given my answer – I am to remain here for now. My time here is not complete. He isn’t finished with me yet. And I’m only confident of this answer because of the wonderful members of His body who gave prayers in faith for me. I am so thankful to them and for them.

So here comes another week. I can’t lie, I’m a little nervous as this last one has just come to a close. (My schedule was full to the brim all the way through Saturday!)

But I am so thankful – God has already gone before.

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