Thanksgiving morning I outlined the first things on my thankful list. I thought no one really cared about it just as I did not care for the thanksgiving of others. But I did know God was anxious to hear each blessing mentioned. I knew there were many blessings too. Some were stuffed under rocks and hidden in darkness. But they were present, if only I was willing to seek them out.
Concluding three paragraphs of gratitude in my journal, I wrote a simple phrase: “Thank you for being so close.” And although it was I who penned the words, I felt a scoffing laugh well within my heart. In expressing thanks for his presence, I suppose I was trying to convince myself he had indeed been present with me through the past three months. Contrarily, I had so often felt God was distant.
I thought about the contents of my journal as the day progressed. For a Thanksgiving feast, eight of us gathered around the dinner table. My dad started by saying we needed to each name something for which we were thankful. My family is emotional; therefore, tears accumulated on the dark tabletop as our collective thankful list was made. My grandparents were thankful for this country and the freedom we had because of it and Jesus Christ. A typical reply. My brothers thanked God for their siblings. I guess they couldn’t think of much else. My sister gave gratitude for all the people she had been able to contact through her online school.
Finally it was my turn. I knew what I was going to say; it had been burning in me after writing that morning. It hurt, in a quiet way, to set free. Because this blessing was not wrapped in unblemished white paper; it was scarred by darkness and fear. Most days, I perceived it as a curse rather than a blessing. But that Thanksgiving Day, I had to release the thanks; I knew that I needed to set the gratitude free for all the growth that had occurred in me.
Through tears I whimpered words which my heart struggled to relate. “Thank you. Thank you, God, for my school–the public school I have attended these past three months. It’s not been easy to return there each weekday. But I know you have grown me because of this experience. So thank you,” I choked on those last words. “Thank you for being close to me, for being present. Thank you for walking with me into my high school each day of this school year.”
There was a fire in these words. Because declaring them made me a certain kind of brave; the words were produced out of a handful of faith. And this faith allowed me to believe he was present–even when his presence wasn’t evident.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” -Hebrews 11:1, 6