This past weekend I was messaging my good friend, Wendy, during a particularly rough time for her. Elijah, their special son, has been going through some really hard times. Someday I hope that Wendy will write their story. If she doesn’t, then I want to do that. God is setting her apart in order to bless many people someday, even more than she already has. Anyway, on this particular occasion last weekend I felt compelled to share a reminder with Wendy from Philippians 4:6…….a verse that she knows all too well.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” I talked to her about being thankful even in her very difficult circumstances, even if it’s just to be thankful for the next breath she drew, or to be thankful for a characteristic of God. She and I messaged privately some after that as I wanted to be sure that I had not offended her. You see, these thankful issues are something I struggle with often…….especially when the going gets tough with Aaron.
I should have known that God would put me to the test after I so freely gave out advice. This past week with Aaron was really hard, as I’ve written about in my last blog. I wanted to chuck it all and just drive off into the sunset more than once. Man, he was nearly impossible at times! On his worst day, Tuesday, I was driving him to meet his group when all my advice given became advice that I knew must be taken……by me!
There I was, driving on Maple to meet his group at Quik Trip, and listening to Aaron be verbal. Not verbal in a nice way, either. Reasoning with him at that point was futile, I knew. Plus I was at a boiling point and my words would probably not have been kind. Then I remembered what I had told Wendy, and I smiled inwardly………a very small smile, mind you. I knew that the words I had so freely dished out now needed to be on my own plate as well. “OK, Lord,” I thought, “I’ll try to do what I told Wendy to do.”
I didn’t feel like being thankful. I felt like hitting Aaron, to be honest. But I did thank the Lord for…..let’s see……the beautiful blooming trees that we passed. And the sunshine. And the fact that God let me see a new day……dismal as it was……….but back to being thankful. Let’s see. I told Wendy to thank the Lord even for the breath she drew, so I did that. And I thanked Him for loving me and for loving Aaron……because he sure needed someone to love him right now.
I was reminded of all this earlier this morning. Aaron, who has calmed down after his awful week, came upstairs to ask me if he could have the remaining coffee…….and would I pour it before Dad and I left for church? When I went to the kitchen a little later, there was Aaron’s coffee cup already full of hot coffee and creamer. Gary had already fixed Aaron’s extra cup of coffee.
I told Aaron that he needed to go downstairs to Gary’s study and thank him for fixing his coffee. Thankfulness is something that definitely doesn’t come naturally to Mr. Aaron. In fact, saying those two words is very difficult for him. Aaron knew that drinking that wonderful cup of coffee hinged upon him saying thanks, so he went obediently down the stairs.
“Dad,” I heard him say. Then Aaron chuckled and continued, “I expected to get two cups of coffee.”
So does Aaron really feel like this is a thank you, I thought?
“I’m glad I got another one,” he said……and then rounded the corner to head back up the stairs.
He looked up, though, and saw me standing at the head of the stairs. “Did you say thank you?” I asked him.
“I put it THAT way,” he explained….and he lumbered up the stairs.
He took his hot cup of coffee from the kitchen counter where I stood, and matter-of-factly said before he left the kitchen, “You’re weird, Mom.”
Then up to his room he thumped, trying hard not to spill his coffee.
And I shook my head, as I do so often, and thought about his comment to Gary. Aaron’s version of saying thank you was to say that he was glad he got another cup of coffee. Gary understood Aaron’s heart and he appreciated Aaron’s thankfulness, put THAT way, as Aaron said.
I believe my Heavenly Father understands me and understands Wendy, too, when we try to express some measure of thankfulness while staggering under the load of our special children’s needs……..and their behaviors……….and such a myriad of decisions and emotions that we face so often. I believe that God understands us when we don’t say thank you right away, or when we say it through gritted teeth and clenched fists. He understands our exhaustion and our hurt and our feelings of guilt.
I’m so thankful that God is long-suffering and kind. I’m comforted in realizing that God even understands our thankfulness when it’s put THAT way……..such as saying thank you, Lord, that I didn’t strangle Aaron today. I’ve thanked God for that more than once!
But God isn’t weird for wanting us to be thankful like Aaron thinks that I am weird. God knows exactly what He’s talking about. He knows that being thankful will bring honor to Him, which is our goal in life as a believer, and being thankful will divert our minds from the trap that Satan is trying to lure us into. It’s a trap of defeat and guilt, which is the last thing I need when I’m already struggling on some days with how I’ve handled Aaron.
The next verse in Philippians says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Ah, sweet peace. I know that Wendy and I both could use that……..some days much more than others!
Thank you for putting it THAT way, Lord.