Thanksgiving is a time when we slow down and think about all the things that we are grateful for and all the the blessings that God has put into our lives, but what happens when there is something that is keeping you from being thankful on Thanksgiving?
Of all of the days in the year some might say that it is nearly impossible to not be happy on Thanksgiving Day. Most people are celebrating the day with food and with family that you love (or tolerate) and you just love the atmosphere of those amazing feelings that the food and family and friends make.
During the Thanksgiving of 2014 that was what my Thanksgiving was supposed to look like. We had everything planned out. I was going to wake up and help my mom cook some of the food before we went to my grandma’s house to eat and watch football and play games and just be happy together.
As it turns out that is not how my Thanksgiving turned out.
For about a year and a half we had a new pastor at our church after our previous one had moved to get married to his new wife. For a year and a half it was great for me. The pastor and his wife had 4 boys that were around my age and I got to be good friends with them because I would see them every Sunday and we would joke and tease with the other kids and just had a great time making memories with them. I also became a really close friends with one of the boys in the family. He was a really good friend. Even though I did have a crush on him I still appreciated the fact that we got along really well and that he understood how I thought about things. We had a lot of things in common and just got along really well and became really good friends and he was just someone that I could talk to really easily.
I was also really thankful for him because for about 8 years in this church I had been the oldest kid and a lot of the other kids were younger than me, so even the kids in the youth group would consider me more of their mom than a best friend, which was fine I just also wanted a friend who I could talk to and someone who would understand me. I prayed for a long time hoping that God would be able to bring someone (preferably a girl my age) to come and be a great friend to me at church.
Well I do believe God answered my prayers and sent someone who would be able to be my friend and that is something that I am truly thankful for.
Now on that Thanksgiving day in 2014 I was not expecting what was about to happen.
It was around 9:30 a.m. and my parents were in there room while my sister and I were in our beds trying to get the courage to wake up. My mom called both Mariel and I into her room. Both of my parents were sitting on the bed which meant there was something important that they were going to say and usually that means something that I wouldn’t want to hear.
As we were facing them my mom explained that our church elders sent out an email to all of the staff and the youth parents of the church explaining that they had decided that this pastor wasn’t the best fit for our church and that he would no longer be leading our church.
It took a while for it really to sink in that this was something that I did not want. At first I told myself that it wasn’t that big of a deal and that things like this happened sometimes and that it was going to be ok. But no I was 17 year old Catherine Griffith who just wanted my friend to stay and everything was not going to be ok!
It was hard. I cried. But do you know that the worst thing that day was the fact that it was Thanksgiving. Darn Thanksgiving. This was the day that I was supposed to be grateful for all that I have and all that God has given me while I might never see one of my best friends again!
I was mad! I was mad at God. I was mad at the elders. And I was mad at the fact that I had to be happy today because that day was Thanksgiving.
I cried a lot that day which made me very tired, but it was ok to be tired that day because after all it is Thanksgiving and everyone is already sleeping anyways. But I still didn’t stop being mad even after Thanksgiving. One of the questions that I immediately starting asking was why the elders and God could take good people out of my life. Did they not understand that this whole family was important to me? That 3 days before, at my birthday party those parents had given me a card that said, “We are so glad that you’re in our lives!”
There were not a lot of things that pointed out that it would be easy to be thankful.
It took a long time for me to be ok. And ok didn’t mean for me that I forgot everything and that I was happy with everything that had happened, but I got to a better place mentally about it were I got think about the situation in a rational way.
I still talk to my friend. And yes he knew that I liked him. And we both think each other is still pretty cool. But I still go back to all of that and ask God why did it have to happen at all?
I remember one day last summer when I was feeling down about things. I had decided to go on a bike ride to just clear my mind and give myself some space to think. I was thinking a lot and I said out loud, “God why did you have to take good people away from me? If they were good and filled my life with good things why did they have to leave my life?”
And you know what I wasn’t expecting it but God answered me right there on that bike and said, “Catherine they served their purpose. Yes they were good for you but the people that they are and the memories that you have with them will never leave you. They were there to help you and now that they have served their purpose it is time for new people to come around you and help you grow. Those people will never leave your heart. And you need to be thankful that they were with you for a time. Even if that was not all the time that you wanted.”
Woah! Now I knew that was God because if you knew me and this situation that is not something that I would have wanted to hear from anyone. I guess what God showed me a way to be thankful. All of the people that I had to say goodbye to last year in my church, as my friends, and in my family will never leave me and you know what God was there the whole time. He was there when I was crying on my bed, when I all I wanted to do was to be mad at someone and when people around me were trying to help. And he is never going to leave me. He will always be by my side.
Now that is something that I can always be thankful for.
Ephesians 5:19-20 “…Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”