“Thank you, God for the times You have said, “no.” They have helped me depend on You so much more.
Thank you, God, for unanswered prayer. It reminds me that You know what’s best for me, even when my opinion differs from Yours.
Thank You, Lord, for the things you have withheld from me. You have protected me from what I may never realize.
Thank You, God, for the doors You have closed. They have prevented me from going where You would rather not have me go.
Thank you, Lord, for the physical pain You’ve allowed in my life. It has helped me more closely relate to Your sufferings on my behalf.
Thank you, Lord, for the alone times in my life. Those times have forced me to lean in closer to You.
Thank you, God, for the uncertainties I’ve experienced. They have deepened my trust in You.
Thank You, Lord, for the times You came through for me when I didn’t even know I needed a rescue.
Thank You, Lord, for the losses I have experienced. They have been a reminder that You are my greatest gain.
Thank You, God, for the tears I have shed. They have kept my heart soft and mold-able.
Thank You, God, for the times I haven’t been able to control my circumstances. They have reminded me that You are sovereign and on the throne.
Thank You, God, for those people in my life whom You have called home to be with You. Their absence from this earth keeps my heart longing for heaven.
Thank You, God, that I have an inheritance in the heavenly places…something that this world can never steal from me and I could never selfishly squander.
Thank You, God, for the greatest gift You could ever give me: forgiveness through Your perfect Son’s death on the cross on my behalf.
Thank You, God, for the righteousness You credited toward me, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a righteousness I could never earn or attain on my own.
Thank You, Father, that You know me, You hear me, and You see my tears. Remind me through difficult times that You are God, You are on the throne, and You are eternally good.
And thank You, Lord, not only for my eternal salvation, but for the salvation You afford every day of my life as You save me from myself, my foolishness, my own limited insights, and my frailties in light of Your power and strength.”
– Cindy McMenamin, Author
As I read for my story today, I came across this prayer. I’m not sure–I may have used it last year. I did not find it and finally decided repetition is a good thing. Besides, Cindy’s words are too wonderful not share on this day, the day before Thanksgiving.
As I read Caroline Myss’ newsletter, I felt part of it was also something I needed to share today. It certainly tugged at my Catholic background–which made me smile and a little sad all at the same time–all the emotions seemed very appropriate and fitting for the season.
Except for the Grace of God Go I
I remember hearing that spiritual prayer of acknowledged gratitude over and over again while I was growing up. And I certainly heard the nuns say it. As a child, I loved the sound of that phrase because it was a phrase that seemed to hide a great jewel of wisdom. It was a type of treasure chest made of simple words that when strung together communicated a powerful truth. “Except for the grace of God go I.” It was apparent that those words conveyed some sort of profound meaning because I noticed how the nuns would nod their heads in a type of collective agreement after one of them uttered that phrase. Eventually I let go of my mission to crack through the deeper meaning of this phrase and got on with the business of growing up. I was about eight-years-old when I made that decision.
That phrase exploded out of the dust of my mental archives in my early thirties, right on time you might say. It was just one of those days, really, that starts out gorgeous but ends up being a game changer. That day was made for walking. So that’s what I did. After a few hours, I got an iced-tea and sat on a bench to check messages and all that sort of thing. I didn’t pay any notice at all to the guy who sat on the bench a few minutes later. Why would I? But, as I was about to find out, certainly noticed me.
He asked me if I would get him an iced tea. One glance told me he was homeless or en route to that crisis. I asked him if he wanted a sandwich, so long as I was getting him a cold drink. He did. I turned to leave as soon as I gave him his meal but then he said he hated to eat alone and would I mind just sitting with him. I was uncomfortable as all get out – I mean down to the pit of my stomach. But I was in a familiar park and it was day light and I knew I could run faster than him…so I figured, ugh….okay. UGH
He took one bite out of his sandwich, one gulp of his drink and said, “I know you want to get the hell away from me. I know you are uncomfortable as hell right now. You don’t know me or anything about me. I’m a veteran. The war in my head won’t stop. I just try to find quiet places now. That’s all.”
My heart hurt. I could feel the pain in my chest explode. My eyes filled with tears and all I could hear in my head was, “Except for the grace of God go I.” I could have been sent to harm others or to face some type of horror. Or I could have witnessed nightmares early on, but I did not. I sat next to him and felt the whole of my life reshape itself into a simple but deeply meaningful prayer of gratitude and one of grace for the other. It is these moments, these tiny encounters that just show up out of nowhere, that are the purest expression of God in the small and present details of your life. This man changed my life. I have looked for him many times in the park near my home and have never seen him again – not to imply that he was “not of the Earth”. We have yet to cross paths again, but I hope it does happen.
Through him, I entered into yet a deeper mystery about life but with so much gratitude about each day of my life. This is one of my own prayers:
I never know where I will find You or how You will speak to me. Some days it is through new person and other days it is through a new experience. Each day I become more aware of something I did not understand or realize before. I knew I should be grateful for all that I have but now I realize I should also be grateful for all that I do not have. For I do not have traumatic war memories and I do not have scars from being a refugee and I do not have the fear of a homeless person. I am grateful for all I have and for all I do not have. If I am grateful for having been spared a suffering, give me the grace to help those who are suffering. Amen”
Thank you, Cindy McMenamim and Caroline Myss, for joining me in story telling today.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends, may God bless us all.