Thankfulness

This year has taught me thankfulness in a new way.  I have a lot to be thankful for: I have a family, even when they’re not nearby.  I have a roof over my head.  I have a salary that pays me enough of a salary to live on and then some.  I have people who love me, not because they are required to, but because they do.  I have a plethora of experiences that many people could only wish for.  I have a car.  I have a job, even when I hate waking up at 5:30 AM, and even when my students will not listen to a word I’m saying.

This year, though, I am most thankful for the chance to see a little bit of God’s bigger picture.  We all know the sayings: “God uses all things for good.”  “God’s got the big picture in mind.”  It’s a lot easier said than done.  When challenging things happen, we don’t always get to see the positive side of it.  We can only trust that God will use it.

One of those challenging experiences in my life came in January when I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder.  Life changed because of the rules and regulations, as well as the medical implications.  A couple weeks later I received the offer to join Teach for America and move to North Carolina.  Slight catch: with a seizure disorder, I was not allowed to drive.  Getting down to North Carolina was one thing, but having to get to and from school on a daily basis without being able to drive in a rural area of the United States would be a challenge, to say the least.  Logistically, it didn’t make sense.  So many details to work out.  So many hoops to jump through.  So much red tape.  For me as a planner, these were overwhelming and highly unfavorable conditions.  It would have been easier to just say no and find a job locally.

But somehow I still wanted to go.  It didn’t make sense with the hassle that would come with it.  I wrestled with the question of whether or not to go for about a week and a half.  When I thought about not going, though, I heard a question.  I can’t say that I heard an audible voice, but it was undeniably a question that was not my own.  It asked: “Lauren, don’t you trust me?”

I blinked.  Had I heard right?  I wanted to hear it again, just to be sure, but knew that I wouldn’t.  God wanted to know if I would actually trust him, and it was up to me to actually trust that God would work out these details of medical logistics and driving and transportation.  I accepted the position that night and hoped that some miracle would happen.  But I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was what God wanted me to do in an act of trust.

The next day I found out I had been misdiagnosed and did not have a seizure disorder.  I could drive.  All of the details fell into place, that hassle evaporated.  But that was not the end of the question of “do you trust me?”  From that point on, I knew that God wanted me in North Carolina and this decision was not my own.  The next period of my life would be me trusting God.

I am thankful for that misdiagnosis because it gave me a chance to trust God.  That answer in the short term reminded me that God will also answer the long-term.  If I had not had that chance to trust God there, I would not still be trusting God now.  I would not be convinced that God wanted me here in North Carolina .  I would not be convinced that a 65 hour work week was what God wanted me doing.  I would not know that God wanted me here loving this kids who have been deprived all of their lives.  I would not be sure that God wanted me to be a light in a workplace full of negativity.  If it hadn’t been for that misdiagnosis and that question from God, I would have packed up and left North Carolina by now.  If I had not had to trust then, I would not be able to trust now.

So I’m thankful for those hard times that bring a lesson, and even goodness, especially when they apply so directly to the future.

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