I’m really good at saying, “Thanks.”
I thank people who bless me when I sneeze and people who hold the door open for me, I thank my servers and baristas and gym staff . I thank Dear Tim (aka Dad) when he puts oil in my car and Sweet Denise (Mom) when she makes dinner.
I thank people who give generously and love deeply and care affectionately. I thank people who are my kind of people, the supporters and cheerleaders and encouragers who spur me on to do good things.
But if we’re being honest, I’m not good at saying thanks in those moments in the valley
I certainly wlasn’t thankful when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder — and to put it frankly, I’m still not. I wasn’t thankful when I almost failed my Christian Ethics course in college, and I wasn’t thankful when my friend Richie died of cancer last March.
Yet it’s in the darkest moments that I pray the loudest.
I fall to my knees in my bedroom, let out awful wails and pour out oceans of tears. I clench my fists and ask God, “Why?” and hope and pray He will deliver me from whatever mess or heartbreak or hurt or struggle I suffer from.
Most of the time, it’s during those deep-in-the-valley-no-where-to-go moments that I feel the closest to God. I remember His scripture which promises divine deliverance. I feel His love pouring over me, soothing my cries and healing my hurts. Once I make it through, I look back and understand how His plan unfolds, only for supernatural peace to wash over my worries.
When you really get to thinking about it, it’s a little funny: it’s at the times when I have the least that I truly feel God’s presence the most.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
There’s something warm and fun and brilliant about meeting up with people you love to devour food and count your blessings.
But this year, many of my friends have faced a lot of heartache and hurt and loneliness and doubt and suffering. Though my life isn’t close to perfect, I feel untouched compared to my friends who currently struggle with deep, devastating loss and scary, echoing fears.
This time around, it’s not me in the valley, it’s them. My loved ones. My friends. My community. And aside from prayer and petition, the only encouragement I can give them is this:
Even when you have the least, God loves you the very most. He loves you during times of thanks, and He loves you during times of doubt. He loves you while it’s good and He loves you through the bad. He loves you and He’s here for you and He hasn’t left your side, even when you feel utterly helpless and alone.
You may not have a lot — or anything at all — to give thanks for this year. Just know you are seen and heard and deeply, radically loved by your Creator.