Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart…
- "Thankful Song," Veggie Tales

This month has had its ups and downs for me. It began with a terrific high. I spent seven November days in beautiful, beautiful England – how much higher could a bibliophile and anglophile get? Beautiful countryside, wonderful friends, an amazing city and a place that feels like home even though it isn’t.

And then my great-grandmother passed away, suddenly. While it wasn’t as unexpected for my family, it was for me. Since I was an ocean away, the news that my great-grandmother was doing poorly fell between the cracks; all the news I heard was filed away with, “Her health has been like this for the last two months.”

I heard of her death while sitting in a Starbucks around the corner from Kensington Palace on the rainy afternoon of my last day in England. The rain seemed very fitting. Sometimes I wonder why I cry when I think of little things about her; I was never close to her, but…she was my great-grandmother. She was my mom’s grandmother and my memere’s mother. And she’s gone. She will never meet any children I may someday have. She won’t be sitting at the dinner table this Thanksgiving. She will never ask my mom, “Does Krista have a boyfriend?” and say, “Good, good! She should wait, she is still young!” when my mother tells her about the lack of a boyfriend in my life.

Still, life continues. It’s been nearly a week since the funeral, which occurred two days after I arrived home in the States. The week has flown by, but has blended together. Work has been stressful, busy and will stay insanely busy for weeks. I have a head cold and life just feels…blah.

I have so much to be thankful for, but I feel as though I lack the joy that I keep thinking should come with thankfulness. I am thankful for my family, for friends, for my trip, for memories. I am thankful that God orchestrated the last day of my great-grandmother’s life in some of the best possible ways, giving time for family to say goodbye. I am thankful for my job, even if it is stressful and crazy-busy right now, because jobs are precious during these hard times.

But being thankful doesn’t always mean that I will feel happy. A thankful heart is a happy heart, yes…but a heart can ache and be thankful at the same time, too. Giving thanks in all circumstances and occasions…that is beauty. To give thanks when life is beautiful and exciting and joyous is easy. Giving thanks through tears, and rejoicing while we ache…that is more difficult. Difficult, but perhaps giving thanks now is even more important than during the easy seasons of life.

As the hymn says,

In the season of plenty, in the season of our need
We will find His grace sufficient, we will find His love complete

And so, this year I praise Him and give thanks:

In thanksgiving, let us praise Him; In thanksgiving let us sing.
Songs of praise and adoration to our gracious Lord and King

And maybe, just maybe, with the giving of thanks, the happy heart will come a little more easily, too. But I will give thanks, no matter what circumstances, happy or sad; I will give thanks with a grateful heart.

Whatever circumstances you are in, whether they come with laughter or tears, pain or joy, I hope and pray that you have a blessed and grateful Thanksgiving.


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