Thanksgiving week makes me pause, consider and reflect. I read Colossians 2:6-7 today and pondered it for a bit:
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (NLT)
These verses made me aware of all the times I chose to follow him when it was difficult for me. I let my "roots grow down into him" and my life to "be built on him." I can attest the truth of this verse, because it has made me "overflow with thankfulness."
It was the first Thanksgiving that we’d ever spent away from home. Thanksgiving had long been my favorite holiday. Without the pressure of Christmas, it was a time to catch up with my large family in a homey kind of way. But this year, it would just be just my husband, Brad, my son, and I.
When Brad told me we were moving to North Carolina, I’d been delighted. A chance to escape the boring Midwest had long been a secret desire. We found a small, but charming little house on the edge of town surrounded by 60 trees. It was a rustic place with cedar cabinets and hardwood floors. Anticipation filled me on moving day, but from the beginning things were hard, starting with the stomach flu we all caught upon arriving.
There were other disappointments, too. Brad was not enjoying his new position, and I was stuck at home with a two-year-old and no car. He traveled every other week, which made this even more difficult because then I couldn’t go anywhere, ever. I remember begging God to send someone to my door, because I was so lonely. I began dropping in on two elderly women on our street rather frequently, since they were the only ones home during the day.
I was trying to get to know some of the other women at church, but not having a car made it almost impossible to see them beyond Sunday morning. Other than a few hastily grabbed sentences between the demands of our small children, I only knew their names.
Finally, one of the women invited me to a Bible study. Desperate to talk to someone who could put more than three words in a sentence, I gladly went. Fortunately it was held on an evening when Brad was usually home, so I had a car and a babysitter. These women became my best friends. Although I still couldn’t get out much during the day, I’d spend time on the phone with them as we’d discuss the woes of preschoolers.
But now it was almost Thanksgiving. Although I tried to sound cheerful, my mother must have sensed my loneliness, because she called often. As she talked about our family coming to celebrate, I became more and more depressed. I thought about making a turkey for just the three of us, but we’d be eating it for months. That’s when I thought of Jean and Ted.
Jean’s story was much like mine, except she had a car and a big house. But she and her husband had moved to Charlotte around the same time that we had, and they had a daughter my son’s age. Their parents lived in Pennsylvania, so they, too, would be alone for the holidays. I decided to invite them over for Thanksgiving.
She seemed to like the idea, even offering to cook the turkey at her house since it was larger. When the day arrived, and I’d made all my side dishes to take, I felt a twinge of sadness in spite of the smells of freshly baked bread and warm pumpkin pie. As nice as it was to be spending the holiday with someone, it wasn’t the same as family. Talking to God about my disappointment, it dawned on me that the first Thanksgiving was the same way. The Pilgrims were separated from their families forever, never to see any of them again. Those who had survived the first year gathered to thank God for his provision for them.
That’s when it struck me that Thanksgiving is about deeming God worthy by taking an entire day just to say “thank you” for all the many blessings he has provided. My mind began to be flooded with the good things he’d lavished upon me, such as a place to live, a loving husband and a beautiful child. But most of all, I thanked him for the great privilege of being adopted into his family; one that I will never be separated from no matter what.