When it's hard to give thanks...
Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and for many, it is the first "first" of the holiday season.
The first Thanksgiving without your baby.
Maybe this was supposed to be your baby's first Thanksgiving. Maybe you should still be pregnant. Maybe your baby was with you last Thanksgiving, but isn't now.
Whatever your situation, Thanksgiving may seem impossible this year. Not only the being with family and being acutely aware of the number of seats around the table, but the whole point of Thanks-giving.
When your guttural cry is, "What is there to be thankful for?" but you don't want to ask the question because some well-meaning acquaintance is going to start listing things that you know are blessings and that you "should" be thankful for, but face it - they aren't your baby.
When writers and preachers remind us that we are not commanded to give thanks "for" all things, but "in" all things (1 Thessalonians 5:19), because that should make it easier since you don't have to be thankful your baby is gone, just find something to be thankful for within it. Only even that doesn't always work.
So today, I want to point you to a different command, five verses earlier in 1 Thessalonians 5:14: "And we urge you, brothers and sisters...encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone." This Thanksgiving, that may describe you. Disheartened. Weak. In need of patience from others...and yourself.
If giving thanks is hard this year, that's okay.
If praying is hard this year, that's okay.
If "celebrating" anything is hard this year, that's okay.
There will be other Thanksgivings, other holidays, when both time and the healing work of God has eased the pain that threatens to rip you apart right now. (It will get easier, I promise!). But this year, be gentle with yourself. Be patient. Do what you can, and don't have over-the-top expectations of how you "should" feel.
Because while it is God's will for us to give thanks, He also has a heart for the disheartened and the weak. He is close to the brokenhearted and those who are "crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18), and if all you can do this Thanksgiving is breathe and let Him sustain you and be your strength, that's okay.
Because leaning on Him for strength when you have no strength of your own is worship, too.
Kristi, this is really beautiful and touching. A lovely reminder and I appreciate this beautiful message! Although I am now out of that place of darkness, I had two very miserable Thanksgivings. The first when I was in the hospital , waiting for the inevitable death of Kathryn, and the next... my first without her. And yes, it does get better... hugs.
11/28/2013 05:27:17 am
Alexa, you are so special. :) I'm glad you are not in that dark place any longer and that we have been able to take some of this journey together. Hope Thanksgiving this year is a blessed on in many ways.
Oh, Jennice, I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. Especially at Thanksgiving, when so much of the holiday looks back, at the past and your childhood. It's okay to be a mess, but I know it hurts like crazy. :( I am praying for you tonight, that you would know the peace and comfort that only God can give you.
Thank you so much for posting this. I lost my 18-day old son, Sawyer, in May and I have been DREADING the holidays. Thank you for reassuring that I don't have to be thankful, and I don't have to feel bad about it. Thank you for also reminding me that at some point these holidays will get easier.
Kristi (Naomi's Circle)
1/4/2014 04:30:41 am
Ashlyn, I'm so sorry for the loss of your sweet Sawyer. It is just heartwrenching to say good-bye to your child. I am praying that the actual holiday was not as difficult as the anticipation often is. Please feel free to come back and let us know how you are doing.
11/28/2013 05:13:49 am
Thank you, Jill. I'm glad it encouraged you!
11/27/2013 08:46:27 pm
Thank you so much for these perfect words. My daughter Nora would be six months tomorrow but she was only here for ten short days. I've been worried about how to get through the holidays and put on my brave face. Thank you for reminding me that it's ok if I don't. I don't have to be brave for anyone.
11/28/2013 05:16:52 am
Oh, Jessica. I'm heartbroken for you, and so sad that your daughter is not still with you. Ten days is so short! :( You are brave - you are a survivor! But you absolutely don't need to act brave. I am praying for you today, that you will find strength in God.
11/27/2013 09:13:39 pm
Thank you for this. We lost our son in early May and while I know I have a lot of other things to be thankful for I'm still angry I don't have him... Seeing other babies makes it worse for me too and while I know I shouldn't be jealous I am... Thank you!
11/28/2013 05:19:46 am
Ctp, I'm so sorry for the loss of your son. Having other blessings does not make that any easier, and I know well how painful it can be seeing other people with a blessing that you have been denied. Those feelings are so normal. Praying for you this holiday season. Please feel free to let us know how you are doing!
11/30/2013 09:53:33 pm
This is powerful. Thank you so much. I had a d & c on 11/15 at 11 weeks, so everything is fresh. I have not been able to enjoy this Thanksgiving, but I know God and others are patient with me. Thank you for saying "it's ok" to not feel like praying and cry all the time. Much needed read for me. God bless.
12/11/2013 12:28:18 am
Megan, I am so sorry to hear about your recent loss. Do be patient with yourself. I am praying for you today, as you anticipate the coming holidays. Check out our Advent Sunday series on our Naomi's Circle website. You may find it encouraging as well.
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Naomi's Circle News
Here you will find articles intended to help you in your journey. Some will be reviews of websites and books. Some will be devotionals, some general articles, and some will be guest bloggers. Feel free to comment and let us know if there is something you would like to see addressed here.
Week 1: Devotional
Week 2: General article about loss
Week 3: Testimony/guest blogger
Week 4: Website/book Review