Say “Thank You” With Your Heart

It’s high stress time in our household these days. Winter is dragging on well into April. Our biggest week of the year is getting ever closer and there is much work still to be done. We are preparing to move and we’re not sure where we’re going (and we have a lot of packing to do…a lot). Our son is moving out on his own, our daughter is preparing to go away to college, and…

Our other daughters are aged 3 and 4.

It’s a special time , and it should be easier the past few years. Everyone is out of disposable underwear of any kind. For the most part, everyone sleeps through the night. Both girls are healthy, strong, happy, and smart. It should be 24-7 bliss.

The problem I have had lately is that no matter what we do in a day… playing with friends, painting, baking, watching movies, visiting with Gramma and Papa, spending hours with toys/games/dress-up clothes, going to the library, going to church, any number of things they love: it’s never good enough.

We can spend three hours somewhere having fun with friends, eating yummy things, running around, and the moment I say “It’s time to leave,” my 4 year old cries and my 3 year old makes a run for it.

Sometimes, if I say the word “Later,” or, Heaven forbid, the word “No,” the meltdowns which follow are immediate and gigantic. My babies are being raised in the Immediate Gratification Era, and while I take some of the blame for that (which I share with their dad, big sister, grandparents, and the United States of America), I also feel responsible for teaching them better.

Must to my delight, one thing my littles excel at is saying “thank you” and “no, thank you.” So when I pulled the 4 year old aside last week, after a tumultuous moment of her whining about wanting a movie before bedtime, I was able to explain how to be grateful for what you have this way:

“It means you say ‘thank you’ with your heart.”

My daughter nodded and accepted that for the moment. But I was struck by it. Sometimes, the lessons we are forced to teach to our kids are so painfully, obviously meant for us.

I don’ think any time of my life, in particular the grown-up/responsible for other people’s lives portion of my life, has been quite as draining as the last nine months. There have been major disturbances to my peace, if you know what I mean. We’ve lost some of the security that we held so dear. We’ve battled head lice (Did I just type that out loud? Ugh. I knowknowKNOW head lice are from the devil). We’ve been searching for employment. And now, as we face the busiest and biggest time of our year, we have to move…and our destination, two weeks from moving day, is either 800 miles away from our current home and most of our family and friends,  or a 40 foot bus for at least 2 months.

Even now, as I write, there are nervous tears welling and knots in my stomach.  I have read and reread all the scriptures carved out for times like these and I believe them:  The joy of the Lord IS my strength. My God SHALL supply my need according to His riches in glory. Those who wait upon the Lord WILL renew their strength. I know the plans He has for ME – to give me a future and a hope! But…I’m human, and because I don’t see the paycheck or signed lease, I can’t help but feel very strongly that I messed up somewhere, made a wrong turn; otherwise, why would God be making me wait?

And then, I have to think about my dear girls. When I cut off the movies at 9pm, it’s not because they did anything wrong; it’s so they can get rest. When we leave the park after two hours, it’s not because I don’t want them to have fun, it’s so they can eat lunch. When I have to yell something along the lines of “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” it’s not because I am mad at them, it’s because I’d rather not they bump their heads.

So of course, I have to see that this season of wilderness and waiting that we are experiencing is not about God withholding what we think we want; it’s about Him shaping us, preparing us, and giving us what we need.

And so, in the midst of my worries, disappointments, and frantic pacing, I am trying to do what I’m teaching my children to do: look past my feelings and what I see. Look past the surface circumstances, and search for the deeper meaning. And above all, be grateful for what I have and wait for the rest.

Dear Lord,
You have created us so intricately, yet know everything about us. You made us to always want more, because our ultimate destination is in Glory with You. Help us to remember as we struggle and want that the something more we really need is simply to be closer to You. Help us to hold to every good thing You have provided; help us to learn the lessons we need in our seasons of waiting, and help us to hold fast to the beautiful promises given in Your Word.

Thank You, Lord, from my heart. Amen.