Scared to be Grateful
It’s a season where I should be grateful, but I find myself holding back.
My daughter was in a car accident. Her car was totaled and she was injured. But she’s okay. And the precious cargo she was driving is okay. And the other party’s insurance covered some resulting expenses.
I’m grateful, you bet I am! But my mind whirs…what if her injuries flare up into something more serious?
My husband is recovering from major surgery for bladder cancer. The initial pathology reveals no cancer in the extracted lymph nodes.
Oh, how grateful I am! Except when I watch him struggling to recover from that MAJOR surgery and adapt to the various “new normals” he must learn to live with. The final pathology won’t be back for several weeks and until then, we really don’t know if all the cancer is gone or not. What if it’s not gone?
Several very dear friends of ours are facing less hopeful medical diagnoses. Two for cancer: brain and pancreas. One with an ongoing diminishment of life functions.
I’m oh-so-grateful for the faith I see in the hearts of these friends. They teach me how to trust and how to embrace the underbelly of life. One shared, “As I look at it, either way, I win.” He then quoted Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” But how do his wife and grown children feel?
I know better than to say this – much less feel this. But sometimes I’m scared to be grateful.
There are lots of quirky thoughts beneath this fear.
I have to protect God’s reputation. If I shout out about God’s provision in the middle of a struggle, and then reality goes south with the return of cancer, won’t I make God “look bad?”
I have to please God with my gratefulness. The Bible is filled with directives to give thanks – even in hard times – because it pleases God. Will God be displeased with me if I’m honest that I’m not grateful?
I have to protect myself from the disappointment of gratitude. Whoa! Here’s a big one! What if I give in to gratefulness only to find the ground shifting and the worst-case scenarios open up beneath me, swallowing up my hope in despair?
How do I enter Thanksgiving with these fears dissolving my resolve to say grace?
I look around my life for the less-than-terrifying moments of gratefulness. My husband and I take a walk in the crunchy cranberry-colored leaves and breathe in the azure air of the Colorado sky. My grandson giggles as he gobbles down sticky s’mores while our firepit lights his face in a golden glow. My happy dog snuggles in my lap, way too oversized for such a spot but irresistible in his loyal love.
I pause in these places. My good God leans close to hold me in my fears, tucking my head beneath his constant care until his presence increases and my scaredness lessens. Here I am again: on that life-changing launch pad of receiving God’s love. It’s what makes all things possible.
I open my heart and my mouth follows. “Thank you, God,” I whisper. I am grateful.
Elisa Morgan's latest book is You Are Not Alone. She is the cohost of the podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her other books include When We Pray Like Jesus, The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.