Confession time, y'all.
I'm cranky. And Thanksgiving morning is not a good time to be cranky. I'm painfully aware of the particular wretchedness that is assigned to those who clomp around the house being moody on the one day of the year that we're all supposed to count our blessings and focus primarily on gratitude. And yet, I clomp away.
I got up at 5 a.m., for my second day-off in a row when little C (2 years old) chucked a sippy cup at my nose (also, for the second day in a row) demanding "juice. now." I love my son more than life. I do. This season of toddlerhood is just proving to be almost unbearable with him, and I'm struggling with the always-on mixture of clinginess, crankiness, and outright defiance. My house is trashed because I'm so exhausted that I've decided not to clean the dishes for going on two days now, and it smells like the deer jerky my husband has been experimenting with making during that time (which is a pungent mix of blood and teriyaki odor). My fibromyalgia is flaring up something awful, and it feels as though I was beat with a sledgehammer during my fitful sleep. I found out late last night that I bounced a check to my boss because of a bank mix-up and that I was so stressed thinking about that that I forgot to pick up my paycheck when the office was open and now must spend the entire holiday weekend (and the only time I've had alone with my family in 3 months) with a negative bank balance and a bounced check hanging over my head. I'm 2500+ miles away from my extended family and am homesick beyond reason. We had to have a kid removed from our house last week, and I've cried buckets over the whole thing. It's 85 degrees and humid here, and there's snow at home. Big C is spending the holiday with an unrelated-to-the-rest-of-us uncle, another 6 kids in this house are gone with their custodial families, and we are incomplete. Boohoo. Woe is me.
Here's the thing. Can I be real, right now, friends? I don't feel like being thankful. I am not, at the moment, consumed with gratitude. I am consumed with selfishness, poutiness, fatigue, and annoyance. I would like to stomp my feet and pout, and swat my son's behind while I watch him open the lid of his sippy cup and pour the contents on the floor. I don't want to decorate for Christmas because the donated 80's furniture and teal swag curtains in this house are so horrible that I don't see the point. For reals, yo, I'd like to cry. Big, fat, selfish tears.
But the lesson, here, is that gratitude is a choice. And rather than pull the covers over my head, I will thank God for the shower of blessings I have every single day. I will remember that no one promised me this ministry was going to be easy, or that my heart wasn't going to be broken when I watched these kids go "home". And I'm learning that I can't have life on my own terms and then expect God to fill in the cracks with His way. These ugly couches and this dusty, desolate town mean I'm doing work on His terms, which is what I agreed to in the first place. The trick, I guess, is being thankful when life doesn't look exactly how you'd design it.
So, I will suck it up. I will wash the bloody deer-stained dishes. I will cook a turkey and try not to burn the pie... and make a memory, even if I do. I will remember that my kids are healthy and smart enough to have streaks of stubbornness and defiance, and that is indeed a blessing. I will realize that the chatter and laughter of nine kids in the house on regular days is better than the absence of it on days like this, and fight the wretched clomper inside me in an effort to bring myself back to reality. Life is good. Hard, but good. And, as hard as it is for me to admit it... it's not about me at all. The sooner I get around to really understanding that, the more grateful I can be on days like this.
I am SO grateful for my family, and for the unconventional life we live. I'm grateful for a husband that is willing to undertake this wild life alongside me, and family that supports us, even when they don't really understand why we're here. I'm grateful that our needs are provided for and that there are people all over the world who care about and support the kids I care for and the place that makes it all possible. I'm grateful for peace in our home, for love in our home, and for laughter in our home -- three things I don't think I could live without. Mostly, though, I'm grateful for a loving God who knows infinitely more about what is good for me than I do, and that He has allowed me to be here, doing this, in service to Him, despite all my wretched selfishness. I am blessed beyond measure, and I do wrong to ever let myself forget that. Thank you, Lord. I am grateful.