There are some great things happening in my life. Not the least of which is my 3/4 mile walk to the ocean. For this I am incredibly grateful. But there are some things I'm less grateful for. Take fog, for instance.
Mentally, I have accepted the morning fog, the more frequent clouds and accompanying rain. I've enjoyed many cozy days sitting by the fireplace, reading a good book while wrapped in a warm blanket. But I have not always been able to convince my emotions to come with me to this happy place.
Last month I trudged to my doctor to discuss the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of my anti-depressant medication. She asked some general questions, then honed in on a diagnosis. Our discussion went something like this:
Dr. Z: Have you ever noticed that you're affected by changing seasons?
Me: I lived in Phoenix for 25 years. We didn't have seasons.
Dr. Z: So you're not aware of how shorter days and less sun affect your mood?
Me: I am now.
Dr. Z: Yes, I would say you're prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
In other words, winter on the Central Coast bums me out. Ironically, I'm learning to rejoice in my depression (albeit, in a more subdued manner).
Give Thanks Always--Seriously!
Photo credit: ramocchia
This isn't the only situation in my life that's less than ideal. I won't go into detail, but I've been asking God a lot of questions lately. His response is, "Give thanks." That's it.
And that reminded me of Corrie TenBoom--a tremendously brave and godly woman who hid Jews in her home during WW2 and was consequently imprisoned by the Germans. In her book, The Hiding Place (which I read at age 10, leading to an irrational fear of concentration camps) she relates the story of how she learned to thank God for the fleas that inhabited their barracks.
When her sister, Betsie, suggested thankfulness was the answer to the flea problem (based on I Thessalonians 5:18), Corrie was incredulous. "I will never give thanks for fleas! " But Betsie persisted. "'Give thanks in all circumstances,' she quoted. It doesn't say, 'in pleasant circumstances.' Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.
Fog is a part of this place where God has put us.
I'm not suggesting that my experience can be compared to fleas in a prison cell. That's ludicrous. But there's a principle--a deep, freeing truth--that unites them. The reality that each part of our "where God has put us"--circumstances, brain chemistry, family, etc. is part of God's redemptive plan. An invitation to know God more deeply and be more fully conformed to his image. To see our faith increased and to make God's name great.
Betsie later discovered why the fleas were such a blessing. They were so repulsive to the guards that they wouldn't go into the big room. This allowed the women to freely pray, study the Bible and discuss faith and spirituality. The fleas were a shield.
So today I'm giving thanks for everything. I've put a note card on my mirror proclaiming, "Thank you, Lord, for the Fleas", and I'm beginning to sense an internal shift. Peace and contentedness are creeping in. And I'm learning to embrace some of the imperfection, instead of pretending it doesn't exist or trying to claw my way out of it--such a better use of my scarce energy levels.
Are there parts of your current circumstances that seem difficult to give thanks for? What would keep you from embracing the imperfect, the ugly, the painful?
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
Book Kelli for your next event or retreat.
Find Out More >>