My Instagram feed was covered in wedding pictures this summer. It seems as though almost everyone I know got engaged then married in the same year. I got to attend some of these weddings, and it was a pleasure to watch my friends marry the people they love.
Many of my friends who were married a few years ago are now getting pregnant and having babies. I burst into tears when one of my good friends showed me her ultrasound picture. I was overwhelmed with love for her and her baby. I still can’t believe it! I look at my friends and wonder, How are we old enough to raise children?
Even in my complete and utter joy for my friends, between the wedding photos and the baby announcements, I sometimes end up feeling slightly . . . left behind. I think we create imaginary markers for ourselves, feeling as though we need to attain a certain status by a certain time in order to feel like we are doing life correctly.
I can get caught up in wondering if I’ve missed something: Is there more for me out there? Have I missed my purpose?
Everything I don’t have stacks up in my head as an ever-growing, overwhelming list. It seems as though everyone around me has everything they could possibly want. I think of all the things I want that I don’t have: a job with a shorter commute, a good relationship, more time to be creative, maybe even babies someday.
My list grows ginormous in my brain. It crowds out every good thing that might be happening right in front of me.
As I drove to work the other day, grumbling and complaining along the way, thinking about all the things I didn’t have, and all the things I so badly wanted, something stopped me.
I saw the leaves.
They were changing in front of my eyes. The crisp summer green was making way to a deepening orange. I paused, startled. In my discontentment, I was literally missing the season changing right in front of me.
I stopped at the stop sign. I took a deep, long breath. I gave another look at the changing trees. And then I began to say out loud all of the gifts God has so graciously given me: “Thank you, God, for my apartment. It is a haven for me. Thank you, God, for my counselor. She has provided me a safe place to process this year. Thank you for my family . . . ”
I listed each person I love by name. I told God exactly why I was thankful for them — for their kindness, for their tenacity, for their strength.
I found that the more I thanked God, the more I found things to be thankful for. I saw the clear skies — the way the clouds looked like an oil painting. I felt the breeze rustle against my shoulders. There is always good all around us, but most days I don’t have eyes to see the good. Most days I’m too focused on what I don’t have, instead of the good in front of me. When you’re too busy focused on what you don’t have, you’ll be blind to see what you do.
I am choosing to be grateful for the season I’m in. I am choosing to combat discontentment with thankfulness. I don’t want to be a complainer — I want to be truly, deeply, richly grateful for this life I have been given. It’s easy to look to my right or left and see what I don’t have, but the truth is that’s not my life. That’s theirs.
Wedding pictures, baby announcements, and Instagram never tell a full story. They simply tell a snippet. Most of us are longing for more than what we have right now: a husband, a baby, better health, a better marriage, a job, a friend, a home. Our lives will always contain highs and lows, joys and sorrows, but through it all, God will be our constant. So, tell God your desires. He wants to know what’s on your heart. Then — and this is the hard part — trust in His perfect timing.
Each of us is made for a reason by a God who loves us infinitely. Most days I do not understand what God is up to. Almost always, I wish He would give me a clearer picture. But I know I have today. I know I have this moment.
And today, I choose to be grateful.
Our lives will always contain highs and lows, joys and sorrows, but through it all, God will be our constant. -@alizalatta: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
In my almost 6 decades of walking this earth, one thing I know for sure…I, too, don’t understand what God is up to most of the time. So many things in my life haven’t made sense – at the time. Through seasons of waiting, seasons of pain, seasons of hoping, I’ve had to trust in what I cannot see. Now, however, as I look back, I see that God was at work all along, through EVERYTHING. He even redeems intense suffering. So what is my choice in this moment? You nailed it – choose to be thankful. As I name each person, place, or thing, I find that thankfulness breeds more thankfulness. It’s contagious, really. But, you are right, it’s a choice. When I get a nagging case of the “grumbles” I know I have to head it off at the pass with “gratitude”. The sooner I act the less chance despair has in taking over. I don’t know God’s exact plan for your life, but I do know this: God IS good and He has a good and perfect plan for your life! Thank you for ushering us into a place of thankfulness this am….I had a case of the grumbles and needed your post!
I am grateful for this reminder this morning. I am also grateful for Bev. What’s blessing her friendship is. So blessed to know her.
Deborah Van Norden says
What do you mean when you say that God redeems suffering?
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
First, I am no theologian, but I know that when you redeem a coupon, you exchange it for something of worth. Christ has redeemed us. He has taken our sinfulness and our repentant heart and exchanged it for His righteousness. I can only relate from my own suffering…some people think that there is no good purpose in suffering. God did not want for me to suffer most of my life with mental illness (anxiety and depression). But, God being God has exchanged that suffering for His comfort and His extreme love and faithfulness. I know I would not have the intimate relationship I have with the Lord had I not gone through such suffering. God exchanged my pain and has given me compassion for others that I never would have had it not been for the suffering. He brings something beautiful out of the ashes. I suffered through 6 years of consecutive major surgeries (both pain before and afterward). God redeemed those experiences, or brought something good, in exchange, from them in that I got so frustrated from not being able to walk for 2 months that I started writing again. I began my blog and through that blog (long story) I was able to help start a Christian school for orphans and destitute children in a very dark place in the Middle East. In that way I have seen God redeem my suffering or exchange it for something divinely beautiful. That’s what I was referring to. God never allows suffering to have no good purpose. Look at Christ’s suffering and what an awesome purpose it had. I hope that makes sense? Lifting you in prayer…
Linnie Dee says
….your response nailed it…..thankyou for responding to my heart!
This is literally my daily life, and you capture that struggle perfectly. In fact, I am going to a wedding this weekend and have lost all joy in these types of celebrations because they just seem so common in my circle. It’s the type of thing where you wish them well, but wonder if anyone will ever care deeply enough to allow you that someday – or why you keep having to wait, despite continuing to work through issues and doing your best when others don’t seem to have to do that in order to be “rewarded.” I think as Christians it would help both married and non if we celebrated each other, but currently that’s not really the climate.
Thankfulness is a choice and a challenge. It is a surrender of what I expect for the gift of what God knows I need. A gift that may not be pretty or pleasant but is still part of His best plan for me. After a short night, I got up feeling overwhelmed by tasks awaiting me and ungrateful for my life as it is right now. I grumbled to God as I got ready for work. When I got in the car, God shared some gentle reminders with me-Mandisa singing “Stronger”, Steven Curtis Chapman serenaded me with “Glorious Unfolding” and finally Zach Williams shared “Rescue Story”. I drove on laughing through tears at God’s beautiful reminders. Music for my heart and reassurance for my soul. I read this devotion when I got to my office and humbly replied, “Yes, God. YOU are my constant, my gift, my love. Thank you!”
Melinda S. says
I love your words this morning. You are wise beyond your years! I read a quote by Rachel Hollis the other day, and the whole time I was reading your devotion..I kept thinking about it.
She said “God has perfect timing, and its highly possible that by NOT being where you thought you SHOULD be, you will end up EXACTLY where you’re meant to go”.
Keep your eyes opened for all the beauty around you and remember that you really are RIGHT where God wants you to be at this moment in your life! Have a great Friday~
Mildred Morris says
This message touch my heart. I really needed to hear this. I’m often looking my friends Facebook or twitter or news feed and thinking why has god blessed with a husband to love me. It makes me cry.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Aliza I am Married I never wanted kids. I do get disappoint at times and want to cry. Why do I not have one good friend I wish I could see more often. Go for coffee with have prayer time with go for walks with. Go now and go to the with cinema more often. I do have one Friend I don’t see her that often. She saved. Not married but she contacts me to let me know when suits her to meet up. It not that often. I don’t mind. But when we meet up it is good to see her. But now and again I do say what is wrong with me that I not go more friends expect one more in Church that I see when she is at Church or when my Husband brings me to visit her and her Mum and Dad because she does no drive. Nor do I. So now and then I get down say why me why does more people not want to be my friend. Then I say Dawn stop Grumbling. You are alive to enjoy another day in God in beautiful world. You have roof over your head. Clothes on your back food on your table. There are people in the world living on our streets without theses things. So I then stop and give God thanks. Then start praising God. Say yes I have the best friend ever. Like the song says. What a Friend we have in Jesus. So with Jesus help we can combat disappointment. Know he is best friend and the only friend we need. We can go him with all our problems and dispoments. Remembering he is the best friend to have. That he is always there for us. That he will never leave us. Or Disappoint us. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Denise Pass says
Yes! So beautiful! We don’t want to miss the “present” of the present because of the cloud of discontentment. And gratitude is so very important. Love this: “I found that the more I thanked God, the more I found things to be thankful for.”
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Denise I love what you wrote. It is so true and so beautiful. About the real present. The present of God. Not presants. Thank you so much for remindimg us this. Putting what you said so well. May God richely bless you for your lovely words as they blessed me. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little.
Thank you for your precious words about gratitude.
The Lord has blessed me in so many ways, yet I still
“Grumble away.” I recently read that “Gratitude fuels
contentment.” Oh Lord, fill each of us with your gratitude
today. Peace and love
Beautiful post for Thanksgiving in a week! I certainly understand how you felt. I too have missed marriage and children but, God knows best. I have a some good friends and loving extending family that I’m so thankful to have in my life. Remembering to be grateful can boost our joy and this makes for a better relationship with Christ.
Happy Thanksgiving (Canadian), Sandy
Beth Williams says
It’s easy to feel as though you are behind everyone else. Thing is you & I are not them. We are uniquely created. God made us different on purpose. Who says one has to be married & have children by 20 something or early 30s? I didn’t get married till I was 39 and that was 15 years ago. Each of us is on their own journey that God has laid out for us. It is super easy to get jealous & be discontented. When I feel that coming on I simply sit at my computer & start making a thankful list. Some contain over 200 items. I list everything from Home in Heaven, Sins forgiven to little things like car & even paper clips. You’d be surprised how many items you can list. Plus it quickly changes your attitude. You realize how wealthy you really are. Life doesn’t always make sense, but God is good ALL the time. When discontentment comes & it will-just stop & name some things He has given you. You will be thankful & blessed.
Linda S. says
Thank you for the reminder of being grateful! 🙂 Despite our circumstances.