Phase I – The long-awaited call finally comes on Wednesday, October 17th. Of course, I am immediately thankful. After all, it has been one year, three weeks, and five days. More specifically, I have been waiting exactly two weeks for this particular phone call. Of course I am thankful! But I am just as quickly flooded. My mind is swimming laps around thoughts of what I need to do next. Who I need to call first. Somehow, I know this isn’t right. This is not how one shows deep gratitude for the end of a year-long drought. “Stop and be thankful”, my spirit warns. But, I already am. Aren’t I?
Phase II – At the tail end of my second unsuccessful call, it hits me: the elation, the relief, the sudden release from a heavy burden that makes it impossible to stop smiling. It’s un-containable, the joy. The realization that something has ended and something wonderful is beginning. I cannot stop laughing. I am succumbed to a complete lost for words. I am overwhelmed with the emotions of gratitude. I am swept away by the attempts to articulate praise. Where could I begin? The last year? The last seven years? The last 32 years? It all seems so much… and yet… I feel it… there’s something more.
Phase III – The uncontrollable joy turns into ceaseless tears. I try to compose myself. I try to find the words to express myself. But I cannot. I finally realize what I am truly grateful for. I understand what I must “stop and be thankful for”. As the memories flood my thoughts, I know what I don’t want to ever forget. I acknowledge that it is not God’s provisions that move me, although they are wonderful and miraculous. No, what is stirring me to blissful tears are His withholding. The comfort He withdrew, the ease He prevented, the peace He frustrated, the resources He withheld, the fiery furnace He did not cool, the prayers He did not answer, the pain He did not thwart… The circumstances, though grim, that brought me to my knees. The heart breaks, though painful, that caused me to love Him more. The fire, though scalding, that refined the gold. That is what I’m deeply grateful for – to have learned to be content with little, to stand naked before my maker with this season’s dross fallen at my feet and know that He is truly delighted; that for that perfect moment, I am purely beautiful… that is what fills me with inexplicable joy. That is when I finally learn how to be thankful.
P.S.: It’s official! I am the new Assistant Director of Student Success – FYE at Palm Beach Atlantic University!!