Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thankful on Thursdays {my coping mechanism}

I've been thinking a lot lately about how one of the elements that sets us apart as humanity, our mind, can be so powerful - for evil or for God. Every once in a while it seems like a really bad idea to me that God would let us be in charge of our own thoughts and desires. Really, Jesus? Free will? You sure about that one?

His faithfulness and sovereignty reassure me again, through these doubts.

Love is only true if it's a choice.

I was reading some articles and blog posts the other night about mental illness. I attended a training for work about the spectrum of autism. And then I was pondering the effect hormones have on a person, from adolescence to menopause and every cycle in between. (Yes, I do work in a middle school and I have a few menopausal friends, too - all in the midst of my own monthly psychosis.) I'm wondering what grief and trauma and abuse and addiction have to do with our choices and effectiveness for Christ. Suddenly I don't really know what "sane" looks like.  

Deep breath. In. Out. 

We'll get through this. We can cope and still love each other. Still love God.

Because if there's one thing I know - gratitude is still good coping.

When the world around me spins and shifts; when people I love act completely out of character and I still can't figure out why they just keep on stabbing me; when I get off the phone with a church member and think what just happened?!; when children and adults thrash and crash ... one thing grounds me. One thought centers the chaos. One question I ask actually does have an answer.

What has He given me now?

So much. Why, just last night the answer to that question was water in my faucet. Did you know that technically, even our toilet water is potable here in America? If that brotherly love doesn't shock you, try living in Haiti.

"And I come, eager to offer a sacrifice of gratitude
    and call on the name of the Eternal." -Psalm 116:17 (VOICE)

While choosing gratitude won't solve all of my problems, or yours for that matter, it does help me cope. Keeps me going. Keeps my chin up. 

If He's still giving me gifts, He still loves me. And there's still hope.

Here again are a few of the graces I've counted recently. And yes, I do count them. I'm in the thousands now, though if I could write them all, I would be in the billions. Yes, He does love me that much. And that, Dear One, is the sanity I hold. I invite you to share a few of your thankful gifts in the comments below today, too. Thursdays we count together, but I hope you're counting every day, because it's the best coping I know in a crazy world this side of paradise. If you want help to know how to start, try this girl, who literally wrote the book on how to find joy in gratitude.

Lord, I'm thankful for:

- finding J reading on his own yesterday at the breakfast table. I really have waited a long time for him to love books.

- my finger, helpless against the urge to point out all these gorgeous trees turning their dresses into glorious golds and scarlets

- cozy socks in my boots

- giggles with my students

- three lovely ladies, all ready for growth in our life group that starts tonight

- pumpkin bagel for lunch

- a good book, and the strength to tune out the cacophony of chaos in the 6th grade cafeteria

- this quote: "We stay busy at work, while people all around us are ripe and ready to be harvested; we do not reap even one of them, but simply waste our Lord's time in over-energized activities and programs ... Our Lord calls us to no special work - He calls us to Himself. 'Pray the Lord of the Harvest' [Matt. 9:38], and He will engineer your circumstances to send you out as His laborer." - Oswald Chambers [emphasis added] ... and the desire You've placed in me to focus all this frenzy into prayer

- "Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (Msg)

Your turn ...

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