Thanksgiving is a tradition I was not familiar with while growing up. It’s not celebrated in the Philippines as an official holiday like it is in the States. While Filipino Christians may be familiar with this practice, the average Filipino is not aware of such occasion.
And so, it is a fairly new tradition for me but I have come to really love and enjoy observing it.
I still clearly remember my first Thanksgiving celebration. It was during my first year in the States while living with six other girls, fondly called the Taylor girls by everyone in our community, in one house. We all decided to rough it up and drive to Maryland, to one of the girls’ aunt’s home.
We have never been to Maryland, and we’ve never experienced driving from one state to another. So it was an unforgettable experience for all of us, from seeing snow for the first time to getting lost during our drive in the middle of the night, from laughter because of our silliness to frustrations over personality differences.
It was a long, exhausting, yet short and lively, drive.
That year, I wasn’t grateful with my life, when I should have been.
I was too self-absorbed and shortsighted; I only saw what was not right in my circumstances. But that year, I also took my first step on the path of learning to be thankful and opening my heart up to what is truly important; it began the beautiful journey I am on now.
As I sit down to reflect on that journey, I cannot help but be soaked with thankfulness. While at times I still go back to my old ways of ungratefulness and selfishness and wrestle with personal and others’ inexplicable plights, today I am counting my blessings to remind me of God’s grace and mercy in my life.
I am thankful to God for:
• Jesus in my life.
He not only paid with His blood my salvation, but He has given me a new identity that rests firmly on His goodness and faithfulness. My life has taken a turn for the best when He rescued me most especially from myself. I know I could single-handedly destroy my life without asking for help from others. Yet even with how unworthy I was (and still am) of His attention, He intensely pursued me anyway.
The rewards of being His child could not measure up to the ultimate reward of having Him in my life. I am brimming with joy and peace and love because of Him.
• My husband.
I am a difficult woman to understand, sometimes I don’t even understand myself. I cry for no reason, laugh inappropriately, overreact very easily and get sad or mad over extremely unimportant things; yet my husband is so patient with me, so intent in learning to sensitively navigate my emotional highs and lows, loving me more at my most unlovable moments.
He is funny, crazy, and most importantly, he loves Jesus. Conversations with him are so interesting and stimulating; there is never a dull moment with him.
And I am only scratching the surface here. There are numerous reasons for how thankful I am of him.
• My family in the Philippines and Idaho.
They love me dearly without question. I feel God’s love through them. Not all can say this about their families. I am extremely blessed to have people who will always be there for me no matter my circumstances, who are ready to stand beside me as I battle through life’s pains, and who joyfully celebrate with me in my successes.
• Working in Thailand.
I know this must sound cliché especially within the circle of Christians, but I see my involvement in God’s work here in Thailand a privilege. There is a sweetness that is not of this world to be in the midst of God’s activity; and being a part of that blows my mind. I cannot believe God would call me to serve fulltime in the ministry.
• My friends all over the world.
They are literally scattered all over the world, and I am one of the few to be granted friends everywhere. I have friends whom I can argue with, laugh with, cry with and sometimes just be silent with.
Though some of them live far from me now, we still have that unique bond that transcends distance. These friendships run deep into my soul forged in love and grace and mercy perfected by time.
• Our Supporters.
My husband and I would not be able to do what we do here without our supporters. They provide for us not only financially, but also cover us in prayer as we continue to pursue God’s work. They work many hours and unselfishly share what they earn and what their families have with us. For this, I am deeply humbled and extremely thankful. Their generosity has touched a very deep chord in my heart that I struggled with (and sometimes still do) while trying to obey God’s voice. I wrote about this here.
• Love and Happiness.
Yes, I am filled with overflowing love and happiness. God has made it so. I have never been out of love and happiness even when I feel like I have. Without fail, He has made it sure I have more than enough supply of love and happiness as evidenced in the daily miracles I experience in seemingly ordinary occurrences of life. I may not always recognize them, but they are there.
I know they are there, and I am learning to be more perceptive of their existence.
No, I do not wish to experience pain but I have come to realize that it is a good thing. I do not say that I won’t hate it when I am in pain; in fact, I most likely will. I would want to escape it.
I know we do not see it as a blessing or something to be thankful for, but pain is a blessing and something to be thankful for.
Pain lets you know that something is wrong or evil. Pain empties you so God can fill you up. Pain is what breaks you so God has an opportunity to build you up into the exquisite person He wants you to be. Pain is what makes you keenly aware of the sweet moments and elegant snapshots of life.
Pain is what makes people strikingly beautiful.
The scars we bear in life become our lifeline in connecting with other people, our strength in loving them just as God does, and our undeniable reason in recognizing our need of a Savior.
Life is too short to be lived ungratefully. I pray to God that we all recognize how blessed we are and how God always want the best for us. May we not live our lives filled with bitterness and complaints.
As we celebrate this season of thanksgiving, let us learn to count our blessings and give thanks and praises to our Lord!
November 29, 2013
© 2013 Kezia Lewis. All Rights Reserved.