My Thankful Life: When God Doesn't Answer All Your Prayers
15 years ago, I knew exactly what I wanted for my life. The master plan included getting my master’s from a major university, living in the city, and working as a curator at an art museum.
When I pictured my life I saw: coffee shops, poetry readings, yoga classes, wine tastings, and the like (you know, the important things in life). I would probably get married, maybe have (1-2) kids, but everyone would fit in perfectly to my yoga/latte/80hr-work-week-necessary-career and live happily ever after.
Roll up the yoga mat, dump out the (cold) latte and brace yourself for my reality. This morning I woke up to my four year old asleep on me, using me as his pillow. Next came my shower, during which four children charged in with complaints/tears/secrets/magical discoveries that needed my soaking-wet attention immediately, as I gently reminded them about privacy (read as: yelled at them to PLEASE shut the door and let me shower in peace, pleeeeease?!).
Then it was on to breakfast, where I made pancakes for everyone with a whopping one (cold) pancake left for me after feeding/cutting/spreading/pouring for the littles. The few hours between breakfast and lunch included a pitcher of water spilled on the ground, play-doh covering the table/floor/mouth-of-the-baby (oops), four hours of homeschooling, a sink full of dishes, three loads of unfolded laundry, six diaper changes (two of which were within 10 minutes of the previous change), and an epic battle over even just picking up the spoon to begin the lunch-eating process.
My life is glamorous.
This post is entitled “My Thankful Life.” Does it sound like I’m complaining? I’m sorry if it does, because I promise, I am not.
Right now as I type these words, I’m smiling (or, at the very least, rolling my eyes) as I think through and recall the antics of this day. Because, oh yeah, besides the average-day-list-of-horrors you just read, I also experienced the average-day-list-of-joys-and-triumphs-and-little-miracles.
I read “I Love You Forever” with the baby while she guided my finger to each picture she wanted me to identify. I had a necessary, redemptive talk with my kiddo about considering others as more important than yourself. I received little gifts of (terribly) colored pages, play-doh gingerbread men, and running-into-my-arms-hugs. I built a blanket fort on the bunk beds and shared fort-enclosed cuddles and giggles with two of the cutest little humans on the planet. I watched my daughter put down what she was making to help her little sister. I heard my two year old recite the simple, miraculous truth of the gospel with a huge smile (“Jesus. died. for. my. sins!”).
You know why I’m thankful? I’m thankful for these little ones. My smile’s morphing into tears. There aren’t words for how just thankful I am for these little ones.
That’s not all I’m thankful for, though, because there are days when the diapers and dishes and drama fog up my window into gratitude, until I just can’t see all that’s really there to give thanks for. I’m thankful that knowing Jesus makes my seemingly-meaningless days meaningful.
That the small acts that no one thanks or notices or appreciates, God sees and celebrates. That “God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving” (Hebrews 6:10). That “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). That every word I speak, every dish I scrub, every diaper I change, every spill I clean that’s done out of love for my Savior is divinely transformed from a mom’s chore into a daughter’s worship. I’m thankful the menial, outwardly-worthless moments of my day have purpose and have worth.
Finally, I’m thankful that today wasn’t spent in an art museum or yoga studio. I’m thankful that “the heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). I’m thankful the steps He established led me to these little ones, their father, and our average, blessed life together.
I’m thankful God doesn’t answer all of our prayers, doesn’t give us all of our dreams. I’m thankful that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”
I’m thankful for this life.