What Could I Possibly Be Thankful For This Year? (2015 Edition)

By November 20, 2015Posts

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
~Philippians 4:6

My husband has wiped out our meager funds and has left me.  I have no job and no means to pay bills or feed my children.  I am a thousand miles away from my family.  My kids are stressed.  My dogs are stressed.  I’m beyond stressed.  I am losing my life as I’ve known it for so long. I am functioning in zombie-mode and see no way out of this abysmal situation.

Although they were more than likely not as coherent, these were my words in November, 1999.  My world had completely collapsed.  Our marriage had declined over the years, but had taken a fatal nose dive when the X was fired from his outreach minister job at our church that September.  His then-undiagnosed mental illnesses were manifesting in bizarre ways…alcohol, drugs, depression, spending sprees, etc.

During the Thanksgiving holiday of 1999, I had no clue what the future held for me.  My parents bought plane tickets for us so we could enjoy our annual family reunion/Thanksgiving Day celebration; however, using some lame excuse, the X backed out of the trip at the last moment and I went alone with my 4 and 5 year old.  For the duration of my visit to my parents that week in 1999, I was unable to contact the X, who had allegedly stayed home “to take care of things”.  Instead of being able to enjoy the time with my relatives and family, I was utterly miserable as I imagined the worse.  Upon my return to Texas several days later, the X met me at the airport and, apart from the chatter from the kids, we went home in silence.  After the children were put to bed, the X proceeded to give me the speechI don’t love you, I never have…I want a break from marriage. 

From Bad to Worse.
The situation deteriorated rapidly throughout the holiday season and, two days after Christmas 1999, his multiple mental illnesses were officially diagnosed.  Sitting in the county health counselor’s office, after a series of conversations with the counselor, it was painfully obvious that the marriage was OVER.  I remember the counselor saying, You’re young.  You’ll meet someone else.  It was this exact moment that my heart broke.  I felt it.    I took off my ring forever at that moment.

That holiday season was a complete blur as I tried to hold it together for the kids.  Before the X moved out for good, screaming matches were common place and I was physically ill and emotionally drained.

Thankfulness?
Thankfulness was the last thing on my mind.  What in the world could I have been thankful for?  As always, hindsight is 20/20.  And, sixteen years later I am able to see God’s provision during this darkest period in my life.   The most major miracle is the fact that I survived.  I made it throughI am so thankful that God didn’t leave me there in the PIT.  And, while I was there, it seemed more like a cavern…a Grand Canyon…a Mariana Trench…a bottomless pit.

If this is your Thanksgiving of 1999, please remember this:  God is there even if you do not feel His presence.  With much assurance, I can say that MANY times during this dark period I didn’t feel ANYTHING…much less God’s presence.   But HE NEVER LEFT ME.

He knows the ending of the story.  He knows what is going happen next week, next month and next year.  He always…and I mean ALWAYS…takes care of His lambs.  Always.   He provides in ways unexpected and unimagined.

My story began like this: 
After graduating from a Christian university, I surrendered my life to missions and met a missionary who was looking for a wife to take back to the mission field. Our churches described our relationship as a fairy tale and sent us off to the mission field as celebrities.  So, sweet!  I was  the wife of a missionary/pastor and was supposed to  minister with him and live happily forever after.  Right?

No.  It didn’t happen that way.  That chapter was closed…ripped right out of the book.  Praise God, He began a new chapter for me.  Was it easy?  No way.  It was a long, uphill battle.

God was not surprised.  
Even though I never thought I would end up as a divorced, single mom, this did not surprise God.

Looking Back.
Thanksgiving 2015 finds me reflecting back on the last 16 years.  I am amazed that God chooses to bless a “discard” like me.    I have a husband who adores me (yes, those men exist…I didn’t think they did) and my two children in college.  I have a little house that I bought a year after my divorce that is now completely paid for.   My husband and I are employed, have food to eat, have vehicles to drive and have a fantastic, loving church family.

Although the journey has not been free from storms or good-byes, I know that God IS. Things I have encountered during this past year include encountering: too many funerals of friends;  a foot injury for the first half of the year;  the “adult-hood” of my children;  many uncertainties in life; huge financial hurdles; ever-increasing threat of social, political and world issues; and the ever-changing changes of….well, CHANGE (if that makes sense).
Even in the storms, God IS.  Even with uncertainties…GOD IS.

Do I know what the next 16 years will hold?  No way.  Both in the personal and global realm, there is a great deal of uncertainty in the air.   I am confident that the uncertain is only uncertain to us, as humans, and not to God.  He has this under control, no matter what.

Until that glorious day when Jesus appears on the clouds with trumpets blaring to gather His children home, the storms WILL happen.  One thing I do know:  God is faithful.  He always has been and always will be.  Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me! 

You may not think you have anything tangible to be thankful of this year, but our GOD, the Creator of the Universe knows you and knows everything about you.  He has great plans for you.  Most important of all, He loved you enough to send His Son to die for you so that you could live with Him forever and ever.
Wow.  What a love!

For this love, alone, I am forever thankful, no matter what.

…we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you…II Chronicles 20:12
Blessings,
Lisa D.
Executive Director, Picket Fences Divorce Recovery Ministries, Inc.