When I was young, one of my favorite books was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I was a serious child. I identified with Alexander on somewhat of a regular basis, as he and I both had two brothers. So I anticipated the worst, pretty much all the time. I remained cautious and pensive.
Last Wednesday I had a bad day. I was finally on my way to the grocery, since we were out of all sensible food (kids wouldn’t eat canned black beans for breakfast), when I got a call from the school that Josiah had thrown up in the classroom and needed picked up. I can’t tell you how much that ripped my heart out. Josiah is my most private child. He’s my pensive, cautious one. To have thrown up in front of his peers must have added considerable insult to injury. This was my sentiment as I walked into the nurse’s office, where he was laying so pitifully on the plastic cot. She told him to stand up and walk because he was certainly too big to be carried. I tried my very best not to glare at her as I responded as nicely as I could, “he most certainly is not”, then scooped up my 6-year old baby boy and carried him to his seat in our van. On our way home he threw up two more times, into his sweatshirt, causing Zachary to dry heave beside him, and Nolan to lecture all of us on the importance of immediately using hand sanitizer.
There were spills, schedule rearranging, extra laundry, extra worry, extra cleaning. Just…..extra.
You’ve probably survived much darker days than this one. This may have been the day you started chemotherapy. Or the day your child started chemotherapy. This may have been the day you had to walk away from the cemetery, leaving behind a piece of you. This may have been the day you have had to endure the darkness of divorce, or deception, or dependence. This may very well have been your terrible, horrible, no good, very, bad day.
I’ve had some dark days. Days when the bottom fell out. Days when my typical exaggerated anxiousness was legitimate fear that drove me to action. Days when the world was so obviously the world.
But as I laid my head down last Wednesday (on the couch, right next to my sick, feverish baby), all I could say in my prayers was “Thank You.”
Give thanks in all circumstances…
How could I say anything else? I could I be anything but grateful?
I effortlessly walked over to the sink and poured my son a glass of clean water from our working faucet. I sauntered over to the medicine cabinet and grabbed the thermometer, tylenol, and cooling cloth. I sat with him and tended to him all evening, while my husband managed the other children. I stayed by his side and let him rest in our heated home, on our clean sheets.
Thank You, Father.
Even on days that seem so long. Even on days when hope seems gone. Even on days like yesterday, when the cold relentless rain fell for hours and hours on end reminding us of the coldness and relentlessness of the world. Even on days when the hope is gone…
This year two of my ‘sisters’ walked through the darkness of miscarriage. I was a blubbering mess for weeks after each one. I cannot express to you how connected I felt to those particular babies. And because geography can be so cruel, I was unable to stand physically beside them through it. So, I wept inexplicably and at inappropriate times, just releasing my grief onto whomever asked me how my day was. (Sorry, Aldi checkout lady.)
During those dark times, my sisters blew me away. They so bravely and rightly “chose joy” and proclaimed “the goodness of God,” as they put it. IN their hour of darkness.
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:18
Tomorrow has been set aside for a day of Thanksgiving. Most of you have cheated and been grateful all November long. (I’ve enjoyed your daily posts on Facebook.) I want in on that. I want to cheat all year long. I want to express authentic gratitude from the depths of my soul as a rule, as a way of living, a way of thinking, a way of being. I want to give thanks in all circumstances. Not just the great times, the good times, or the even the dark times. But in the mundane times too.
Like today. My cup runneth over sharing conversation with my brother over a cup of coffee and nacho dip rather than over the phone. Be still my heart as I watch my nephew devour an un-iced cupcake (y’all…I fed him one when no one was looking…sorry! but you didn’t see his face! he reallllllly wanted it. I’m probably not ever going to be able to resist that, just so you know. I am my mother’s daughter….) Could any more joy flood my soul as I tuck my children into bed, or see my husband return home safely from work, or feed my family from our plenty?
Thank You, Father!
I identify less with Alexander now. I will have bad days, of that I am sure. I may even have some terrible, horrible, no good, very, bad ones. On even those days, instead of wishing I could move to Australia (that only makes sense if you’ve read the book) let my heartcry be the 100th Psalm:
‘Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.’