In lieu of my usual Sunday Confessional, I figured it’d be appropriate to do a Thanksgiving post. I find that actually writing out my experiences kindles more thankfulness than just giving them a quick thought.
As I’ve sat down to think about this year and what I’m grateful for, I came up with many things. My faith, my church, my job, my new friends made this year, my family, my travel experiences. But I know I can’t share everything, so I’m going with the top two!
I know, I know, “God” takes the typical #1 slot of any Christian, right? But I really mean this one as of late. I’m grateful for his character, his faithfulness to my crazy self, and His ability to bring me back to Him when I go to the crazy-place.
I’ve been in some sort of struggle for identity this year. The Lord has brought it before me and I’m trying to deal with it head-on.
I had so many years in vocational ministry before I transitioned to a “real-world” job, as my parents would probably put it. I also got married during this transition, which added another element of confusion to my quest to figure out who I am in this new season.
I didn’t know it yet, but I was mad at God deep inside—mad that I didn’t have a formal role in ministry that gave me a clear-cut, certified “calling.” I was mad that God didn’t let me do what I loved to do with every bit of my time. I was angry that my time had to be given to things I saw no long-term benefit or return on. I was mad that I had big, strategic plans and dreams for women in the church, and God was not only withholding an opportunity to pursue these passions, but that He didn’t seem all that impressed with them in the first place. I was mad that He didn’t seem to need me as much as I thought He would. He was just fine letting me stay right where I was in the insignificant, daily tasks.
I was also mad that I had all these new responsibilities in marriage that I didn’t really care about if I was honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love being married to Cole, as you’ll see in #2. But there are responsibilities that get added into being married as opposed to dating, and a lot of the things getting added to my plate weren’t the things I was passionate about.
It’s like the idea of “death to self” had flown out the window; I had forgotten it was an axiom by which Jesus lived his life and called me to do as well. He spent his days doing big ministry things, sure, but most of his time was spent walking, talking, eating, and teaching 12 ordinary men how to not seek the glory of position and people and really cool roles in the church. He taught them to simply be faithful where they were before they moved to something “bigger and better.”
I forgot all of that. Again.
I had forgotten that being faithful with the little, unseen, seemingly insignificant tasks mattered to God, and that bucking against them communicated a proud condition of my heart; a condition that said “Those things may have been okay for you to do Jesus, but I’m above them.”
After poring over passages like Luke 16:10 and having a couple of hard conversations, I was reminded of a a true, difficult, but freeing reality. I wasn’t fit to handle “bigger” things as long as I consider the “little” things beneath me. I wasn’t ready for some massive role in the Kingdom when I was complaining about the smaller, simple ones. And the truth is, according to God, the pure heart with the simple, genuine contributions are the highest position of honor in His kingdom. I was (and am) far from that position.
And to be honest, I still don’t think I’m ready for more as I look at my sin. It seems my character needs the time to catch up with my ministry dreams.
But you know what? I’m so thankful. I’m so thankful I have a God I can get mad at, a God that let’s me work through that stuff with Him.
I’ve been so enlivened by the God who brings us back, because that’s who He is: the Faithful One who comes to us in the middle of our mess and reminds us of what’s true and right and beautiful. I’m so thankful that He’s a God that opens our eyes when we’re insane and consumed with self. I love that He is the God that comes after the 1 straying sheep out of the 99. I’m thankful that He puts people in our lives that know how to tell us when we’re off and He allows His Word to speak to us when we need a swift kick in the pants. I’m thankful that I know a relational God who helps me when I stray and offers me character in the place of crazy.
2. MY HUSBAND
I know, I know. This is the typical #2 slot of any Christian. But as I said before, I’ve really been in awe lately of the man God dropped in my life out of nowhere.
Cole and I are far from the perfect couple. But we are a couple well-suited for one another, and I can only attribute that gift as coming from the wisdom of God. He knew that Cole and I would sanctify one another.
First, let me tell you what I’m not thankful for.
I’m not thankful for Cole because he gives me a flurry of feelings inside, though sometimes he does, and those days are bomb-tastic.
I’m not thankful for Cole because he completes me, because he doesn’t. According to God, I was whole and complete without a husband. Life feels fuller with Cole, absolutely, but my life was complete beforehand.
I’m not thankful for Cole because he saved me from some bad experience or healed some wound from my past, though I have many of those. According to God, Jesus is the Healer and Rescuer of my soul, not a husband. Sure, God uses the presence of Cole in my life to help redeem my view of males in general, but Christ already gives me all I need in regards to my view of men when I read his life in Scripture. After all, we believe He’s the perfect, sinless man. He’s enough in that department.
So what am I thankful for?
I’m thankful for Cole because he walks with God. And he helps me walk with God in ways I never knew I needed.
I’m thankful that Cole wakes up every single morning and sits at our cheap, way-too-white Ikea table (horrible decision) and meets with God (great decision). His Bible is open every morning before he steps foot out our door to meet the day head-on. I’m amazed not at his discipline, although I could learn a thing or two from it!, but I’m amazed at what that communicates to me after two years of marriage: I love God enough to make time for him everyday and hear from His Word. It’s amazing thing to live daily with a man who believes that God is not silent, that He still has something to say.
I’m thankful that Cole works his behind off. I’ve never seen someone have so many people coming at him as often as they do with my husband.
People think full time photography is easy. It’s not. He gets at least 10 emails plus about 7 phone calls a week of someone asking for a shoot, a favor, an extra photo, wondering if he still has that one photo they lost from 2 years ago at their wedding and can-he-just-look-through-the-800-photos-real-fast so they can have a Christmas card, an are-our-photos-done-yet-even-though-it’s-only-been-a-week-after-our-shoot message, and many more.
These little favors usually take an entire day out of his work week when you add them all up, but he never tells any of them that. He lets them think they are the only ones asking for a favor because he knows what it’s like to need a last-minute favor and while a little stressed, he’s so gracious.
It’s the running out to get office supplies, and the individual notes he writes EVERY person he EVER shoots, the wrapping every box personally with branded stamps and twist ties and going to post office to send out photos so often that they know him by his footsteps.
It’s the meeting with his second shooters and trying to train on the job when he has a new one on board. It’s the people-management and the expectation-setting and the meeting-with-your-tax-guy-all-the-time and praying for each couple before their big day. It’s the giving-people-grace thing he does when almost every couple turns in their family portrait list late and forgets to send the check because wedding planning is crazy and it’s hard to keep up with all the tasks. It’s hard to run a business with people who do nothing on time, yet expect you to get done with your part of the deal early. Cole is the best in the business when it comes to that stuff because he knows what it’s like to throw a wedding together and forget stuff along the way. It’s all that unseen stuff that makes me love Cole. I’m so thankful that he loves people like that.
I’m also thankful that Cole tells me what I need to hear. Now, we’re still learning timing. We both usually speak truth too fast. We’re both blunt and a little brash. Usually in a marriage, one person is softer-spoken. Not the case in the Gorman household. But I tell him this all the time: I’d rather blunt-but-honest as opposed to smooth-talking-but-deceptive. We are both working on gentleness and grace, but goodness if I’m not thankful that Cole doesn’t let me sit in my narcissistic self. He tells me what’s true. He asks me good questions.
I love that I’m not Cole’s mother in terms of his personal growth. As I watch Cole’s life, I see other men speak into his life on a weekly, if not daily basis. And it’s not about sports and plans for next weekend—it’s a group of men dedicated to helping each other grow in their faith. When it comes to the areas of sin that he struggles with (and we all have them!), though he tells me about them frequently, he doesn’t depend on me to fix them. I don’t have to be his mother. He goes to God and the men in his life that have struggled similarly and he’s honest and teachable. It’s amazing to watch and it’s a huge weight lifted off of me. It’s so freeing to know that it’s not my job to develop him—it’s God’s job along with Coles cooperation and the presence of a solid group of men around him, and my job is to walk beside him in anything God wants to develop in him.
I’m grateful that Cole has character. Whether it’s taking out the trash, or being faithful with money or time or relationships, Cole has character. And it’s not the kind of character that looks good in front of other people. It’s the kind of character that is present behind closed doors. He finishes things on time in work, he ministers to people when no one sees, he feels conviction over doing the right things with money, and he’s always found doing insignificant tasks. He’s just got solid character and as I reflect, I can only thank God for the man He has made in Cole.
I could go on and on. But I’ll leave you alone before I start writing another book on this blog post! I’m just drawn to tears this year as I think on what I’m thankful for and I wanted to share. Anyone who knows me from childhood knows that I do not deserve these gifts from God, and I’m humbled. We live in a you-should-get-what-you-deserve world. By human standards, I have a past full of choices that should bar me from these kinds of blessings. I don’t deserve them. The only explanation for my circumstances is that God must truly be merciful and redeeming and personal and giving and able to bring beauty out of ashes.
What has God done this year in your life that you are astounded by?
*feature image credit: longislandpress.com