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With Thanksgiving just around the bend it would be remiss for this Native American not to share a little Indian humor before conveying how incredibly grateful I am that God is faithful to gather every fragment of a broken heart and make all things new.
[Enter] Wilson Elementary School cafeteria--circa Thanksgiving, 1991.
I've invited my mom (full blood Cherokee) to join my son's second-grade class as they "break bread" and offer sincere thanks for the role Native Americans played in creating a holiday destined to repeat on iPhone calendars across North America until Jesus returns.
Imagine long tables lined with make-shift table clothes. All you need is a roll of white paper from art class roughly the length of a football field and some crappy tape that doesn't hold. Remember these?
The finishing touch is brought to fruition by dressing half the children as Pilgrims and the other half as Indians. Can you see it?
My sweet mother, within ear-shot of my son's teacher says, "If they really want to be acurate they should segregate the Indians and the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims refused to sit next to us, ya know."
On a more serious note, I meant what I said about being grateful my life fell spectacularly apart in 2012. At the time I wasn't grateful. At the time I felt confined to a tunnel of pain with despair at one end and rage at the other. I'd loved my husband for so long; given so much. All that "praying and staying . . . to no avail.
Betrayal is a vicious beast of a thing that can cause a person to feel as insignificant as humanly possible. The few years after the divorce I felt like a discarded speck caught in a vortex of disillusionment. Who was I? How do I relate to God, suddenly single?
I could no longer read my Bible. I'd always read my Bible. At night I'd place it over my heart before drifting off to sleep. In the mornings I'd read a sentence or two at my kitchen table before closing my eyes and resting my head upon open pages. Several months passed before it dawned on me that my prayer life had been founded on the fervent seeking of the strength needed to stay year after year with a man who did not have my best interest at heart.
No matter what he did to hurt me or my older sons, I prayed harder. Tried harder. Pushed (read: controlled) harder. I was exhausted from my attempts to manage the damage. For the first time in a long time, I had nothing to offer anyone. It was all I could do to get out of bed and breathe.
I fell apart. But then I made a commitment to face the pain, the confusion; the illusion I'd wrapped scripture around for multiple years--expecting God to bless the world of denial I'd built in the name of Jesus. Well, He did bless it. He brought it down Old Testament style. If life was a board game, I guess you could say the God of the Universe cleared the pieces of mine with one breath.
To be stripped of oneself is a great gift from God. I remember the first day I opened my Bible and could read again. Really soak it in. Not because I had something terrible to survive, but because I had a life to live. And a God who loved me unconditionally. What would become of my relationship with Christ . . . as a single mother? More importantly, as a woman who no longer lived in denial.
What I've learned so far; what I'm most grateful for this Thanksgiving is that today, when I open my Bible, chalked full of highlights from years of study, what means the most to me are the pages stained with tears. God used every one of them to water what I'd highlighted in yellow and bring me back to life.
I'm alive in Christ--not simply Christian. Which is to say, I'm not afraid to let myself feel or face anything. Good or bad. I've learned that in all things He communes with me. What I find most touching is that just this morning as I thanked Him for a life replete with the manifest evidence of His goodness, in my heart I heard the gentle whisper, I'm grateful for you, too, Wendy.
I am not a speck.
I am somebody.
I am grateful to be God's child. And He is grateful to be my Father.
I wish you the same peaceful resolve this Thanksgiving. You are not alone. You are not a speck! You are God's child. You are somebody!
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalm 126:5--6).
Published on Monday, November 19, 2018 @ 2:27 PM CDT