“Rejoice always.” — 1 Thessalonians 5
“Sometimes the phrase ‘… and it came to pass’ can be one of our favorite Bible verses… An anchor to our souls when our worlds aren’t how we would prefer,” this statement expressed by Jennifer Crawford Walker here, really caught me. As November ambles towards its end, everyone is eager to jump on the thanks-giving wagon. Newscasts and posts overwhelm the listener and reader with myriad reasons to give thanks and ways to do so. And yet.
And yet, we are reminded as we give thanks that the year is nearly over and it didn’t always go exactly as we had planned, or would have liked it to. Situations or circumstances we didn’t anticipate or expect. Words spoken in frustration or fear that we wish we could rewind and revise. Emotions we should have kept to ourselves; emotions we should have let others witness. New Year’s Day comes with promises and goals and then we find ourselves on the brink of a holiday steeped in gratitude and pumpkin pie, bridged by wouldas, couldas, and shouldas.
And I am reminded that one cannot be truly happy unless one has experienced to-the-bone sadness. I am reminded that a heart cleansed by tears of loss or confrontation or misgivings, laughs the loudest when touched by joy and fellowship and life. I am reminded that to be forgiven when I err, I must be willing to forgive others when they err, regardless of who they are. I am reminded that I don’t know everyone as well as I think I do and that people don’t know me as well as they think they do. (My friends, my coworkers, my family — my people — as well as acquaintances and strangers.) It is easy to get stuck in a moment, a situation, a circumstance and to sum up the whole of a person based on one part.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” — Luke 22:42
And strangely, as the journey into Christmastime and His birth draws nearer, I find myself reminded of how, on His knees, he who knew exactly what his purpose was and what he was called to do, faltered, just for a moment, and hesitatingly asked not to have to drink from the bitter cup but, instead, to have it pass him by — before fully submitting to His Father’s will. I, too, have asked not to drink from the bitter cup of life, preferring the good wine with positive overtones that goes down easily. I wish only to sip on the parts of life, my life, that unfold in good times and loving feelings. In the end, though, He drank from the bitter cup and gave thanks to His Father. “Rejoice always,” give thanks for the good and the not-so-good, for your purpose has yet to be revealed.
“Everything that happens has happened before; nothing is new, nothing under the sun.” — Ecclesiastes 1:9
It’s true, isn’t it? There is nothing that happens now to us that hasn’t happened before to someone else. Knowing this helps me to navigate through the hiccups, glitches, and potholes that cast shadows on my year. I don’t want my mind to tuck the bitter moments away inside, to be mulled over and dealt with later. Doing so only lets the bitterness and negativity fester and grow in.the.heart. Instead, I want to keep my mind and heart free from the bitter aftertaste of those moments and look forward to the good wine to come. I want to seek the good in people, especially my people. I want to focus on the good they possess and the plethora of ways they bring wonderful to my life. Because what I say about the people in my life influences others. I want to focus on the good in me and not the countless ways I can mess things up with my words or behavior. Because what I say about myself impacts me. I don’t want to sum up a whole, good year by the sum of a few, not-so-stellar parts.
This year will pass. It will pass without taking any moments with it. It will simply move forward and onward, facing each day and night as it comes. And if a year could be thankful, it would be thankful for the ability to move past yesterday, to linger over today and to go forward into tomorrow.
I will be thankful for the same.
Be thank-full, dear reader