Today, a friend asked me why I chose to focus on 31 Days of Thanks this October. It was a good question that has a long answer.
I remember sitting in a waiting room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital last year. It had been a long day of diagnostic testing for Mike and it seemed like we walked miles through the maze of hallways, through basements, up elevators, and down stairs to find all of the places where Mike had to be for his tests. Understandably, he was exhausted and uncomfortable. And I was having my own battle with fears and anxiety and all of those what if questions that were screaming for my attention. Mike’s name was called and he slowly walked over to the door for his final test of the day – an MRI. It seemed to take longer than either of us planned. Or maybe it just felt that way. I had my journal and started writing and I read this:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.” Philippians 4:5,6
I was losing my battle with fear. And I knew that we had a very long road ahead of us. So I read these words over and over.
“Do not worry…about ANYTHING.” “Pray about EVERYTHING” “TELL God your needs” “THANK HIM for his answers”
In that moment and for the days to come, I just needed to calm down. I needed peace amidst the storm. This was not a “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” kind of thing where I had to muster up courage and strength to plow ahead. I just didn’t have it in me. I was standing in an unknown place and I was scared. But here was something I could hang on to. At least it was worth a try. I decided from that day forward that I would do my best not to worry, that I would live in each moment as it came to me. I would also pray about everything that happened – that I would talk to my God about each trial and concern. That I would grow in figuring out what my; what our needs were. And here is the hardest part, that I would be thankful. It was a grand experiment. I knew I could not be thankful for Mike’s illness. That would be crazy. But here was the promise:
“If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”
And that is where my journey in thanks-giving began. In the basement of Brigham and Women’s hospital. I started to have an awareness of what was happening in the eye of the storm. The kindness of strangers. The miracle of having a high school friend of mine be the one to administer Mike’s infusions. The opportunity for Mike to have his treatments locally rather than driving to Boston. The generosity of so many people in giving of gifts, food, and encouragement. And as my mind focused on these blessings and I thanked God for them, my heart became more peaceful. And yes, it doesn’t make sense, but I experienced it. And I still do. Again, I am not thankful for my current circumstances. I don’t know that I will ever get to that point. I miss Mike dearly. But I find that I when I focus on being thankful for the big and little things that happen in my daily life, my heart is at peace. Even in the midst of crises I can experience a peace that is beyond comprehension when I share my gratitude with the One who is walking me through.
That brings me to today. There are significant anniversaries coming up this month. Many emotions start to swirl and I find that I do not have any peace. By doing this 31 days of Thanks, I am reminded to be thankful each day. It is amazing how sincere gratitude chases away fears. This is just another way that God allows us to live an abundant, full throttle life. It is a choice. And I am making it….one day at a time.