Why I’m thankful for my limitations

A wave of melancholy washed over me the day of the holiday concert.   I was sad because I wouldn’t be singing with the local choral ensemble.group_5121

It’s not because the group didn’t want me.

This past fall I was honored to receive an invitation to join the choir, and began attending rehearsals.  My soul was immediately enlivened by the process of learning and making music again.

But I was simultaneously confronted with an old nemesis—my relentless battle with chronic fatigue.

The two-hour Sunday evening rehearsals were intense, with no breaks.  During each practice my body began to crash at about the half-way mark, leaving me hanging on by my fingernails for the duration.  Worse yet, I paid for it dearly for several days afterwards, struggling to function at work because of the resulting exhaustion, headaches, and dizzy spells.

Though I hated to do it, I knew I had to withdraw from the group. My health limitations had gained the upper hand once again.

Perhaps you know the feeling, even though your situation is different.  We all experience limitations of some sort—physical, mental, financial, educational, and emotional, to name a few.

It’s natural to feel frustrated or sad like I did when obstacles keep us from something we want.

But what if we could transform our view of the things that limit us (especially the things we cannot change) to a positive perspective?

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When Will It Be My Turn?

The first one came from JC Penney on January 22. “True Love?” the email ad probed, followed by pictures of gleaming heart-shaped jewelry on sale (with an “extra” 20% off).

While I had seen Valentine’s Day cards at Walmart for a while, I knew this ad signified the beginning of an all-out marketing assault by retailers trying to sell their romantic wares by February 14.  Valentine’s Day is a wonderful holiday—if you are an elementary school kid exchanging cutsie cards and candy — or, if you are an adult with a special someone in your life.

But for unattached singles, the flurry of ads, displays, and flower deliveries to co-workers can be a difficult time. That’s why I’m dedicating this blog post to singles — especially those who have never married. I want you to know that you’re not alone in struggling through this holiday, nor are you the only one who has asked, “When will it be my turn?” Continue reading

In Everything Give Thanks

thSUZ2OHATMany families maintain a Thanksgiving tradition of going around the table laden with turkey and fixin’s and having everyone share what they are thankful for. The responses are usually predictable: “I am thankful for my family, my home, my friends, my job, my good health . . . and of course the food!”

Indeed, we should be thankful for all those things. But this year, I’m challenging myself to go deeper in my gratitude.

There’s a verse that says to “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thessalonians 5:16-18, NASB).

In everything? Other versions of  Scripture say “in all circumstances,” (NIV); “no matter what happens” (MSG). This deepens the scope of thankfulness to well beyond “good things” and pleasant situations.

But surely it doesn’t mean we should be thankful for bad things, does it? I don’t believe so. However, it does provide a call to be thankful in the midst of, and in spite of, the difficulties of life.

Here are a few reasons I have found to be thankful in the middle of challenging circumstances:

Trials: Difficult situations are by nature unpleasant, yet they are the “Miracle Grow” that causes our character and faith to blossom. In addition, they cultivate sensitivity to others who are going through similar situations, and equip us to be an encouragement to them. A rough stretch can also supersize our thankfulness when we reach brighter times. After a devastating house fire, I am much more appreciative of the roof over my head.   Following several years of serving in a toxic work environment, I thank God continually for my current place of employment where I am treated with kindness and respect.

Weaknesses and limitations:  My chronic health challenges are a constant reminder of my physical weakness. Yet they also cause me to rely on God daily for strength, which is a faith-building process I would miss if I could operate in my own power. Although my health issues narrow the scope of activities I can pursue, my “limitations” also help define the areas God  wants me to focus on (like writing this blog)!

Denials:  Life is filled with constant reminders of what I don’t have. Scrolling through  Facebook can be tough as my friends gush about their perfect mates, talented children and adorable grandkids. In moments where all I can see are the “good things” I’ve missed, I am thankful that I can trust God to know what’s best for me. I remember that I am set apart for His service (not set aside). When I reflect on what I haven’t experienced, I’m also thankful for what I’ve been spared from. Only God knows the heartache, injury and loss that I’ve been protected from throughout my life.

As the saying goes, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”  Though life is certain to contain a combination of joys, blessings, trials, limitations and denials, I am grateful that I can trust God to be with me through whatever lies ahead.  He will supply the things I need and never leave or forsake me.  And when it’s time to enter eternity, where every tear will be wiped away, I can’t wait to thank my Savior in person.

As the aroma of turkey fades from the air, I encourage you to join me in finding reasons to give thanks in every circumstance, not just this holiday weekend, but all year long!