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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Gratitude: the changing seasons of my life


Black Friday, or “the day after gluttony” as I have been thinking about it today, has come. This year for me it began with the dreaded “morning after” feeling. Having eaten too much and slept too little, my body felt like it used to when I lived in sins which physically indulged my flesh. Today I slept in and feelings of guilt for being lazy plagued me. Having been raised on a farm, sleeping past 7:00 often causes me to need to speak to Jesus about how I define my worth and value. Finally at 1:30 this afternoon, I have peace in my spirit after spending a few hours talking with Jesus and strengthening myself in His Word.

Yesterday was the most unusual Thanksgiving in my life. Usually what happens during the holidays is that I feel very out of place because I am crashing some family’s Thanksgiving meal to which they have generously and genuinely invited me. They have all known each other for years, and I have known them only a short time. The intimacy level is out of whack, leaving me feeling like an odd one out and reminding me of things I simply don’t have on earth. Yesterday was not like that.

I woke up at 4 a.m. to the first of the three alarms I had set to ensure I would make it out of bed. I considered texting everyone and telling them that I simply wasn’t coming. In the blurriness of my morning brain I realized that if I didn’t go, the whole party was going to be cancelled because I was the only one who knew everyone else. If I didn’t go, everyone’s plans for that day would be ruined. I would also be alone most of the day and likely to be depressed. With some resignation, yet anticipation, I got up and spent some time with Jesus. By the time I met my first friend before six, I was that irritatingly cheerful morning person that everyone else wishes would just shut up.

The day continued with gratitude and connection. I had two fantastic Thanksgiving dinners. I spent the day with a total of five friends. One of them asked me about the picture of two others, “Are they your sisters?” I answered, “If you are my grampa, they are my sisters.” He nodded his assent.

Last week I spent some time with someone who is even more fiscally challenged than me. We have a very shared experience in how God has worked through the “poverty” in our lives. I found myself often saying to her, “One of the good things about being poor is…” It would seem like an odd confession except at this point I have nothing negative to say about living on daily bread as God has asked me. There are only two times in my life when I can remember having peace about my financial security. Both times I was too poor to have any of the answers and had to depend on God alone for all my provision. Yes, I worked; but only He could actually provide. The bank account, though very responsibly managed, was really close to zero.

One of the things I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving season is my new winter coat. For most of my life I would have experienced God in buying a coat with some intellectual understanding that He is the One who gave me the ability to work and because I had been a good steward of the money I had earned with these abilities, therefore I had a new coat. Although that may have been true of what was happening in my life at that time, it isn’t the way I experience God’s provision anymore. Now it goes more like this:

Last year one of my good friends bought a new coat. She needed one. God provided for her to have the money to do so. He provided a coat for her in one way. He would for me in another.

There are so many times in the last five years in my experience of following God on what has been a very unusual financial path that jealousy and envy have consumed me. Often I would get caught up in how I was just as intelligent and educated as many of the very wealthy people around me, why couldn’t God let me do something normal like go get a job that made $90,000 a year? He refused to give me freedom in my spirit to do anything except continue following a path of financial surrender to His much better plan. I was to be “poor” as Americans know it and this would be one of the ways He would work through me.

Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I envied. Other times I lusted.

But when my friend got her new coat last year, I didn’t do any of these things. I did gently think, “If I was the kind of person who could have a new coat, that is the kind of coat I would have.” Then I continued on with my life, knowing I wasn’t the kind of person who could have a new coat but grateful my friend was.

This year I cleaned my house. About one third of my possessions have been or are being sold by Goodwill Industries. You can go and try to find them if you like. For one reason or another, my coats all left me too. I needed a coat. Winter was quickly approaching. I live a few miles from New York City. A coat is not a luxury.

Every time I dropped things off at Goodwill, I felt I was not even supposed to look for one. It was still about giving away and letting go of what was past. On a different day it could be about replacing it, but in my spirit I felt strongly that I was not supposed to even look at what they carried. I obeyed.

One day devoid of all logic, it was different. On this day, I was to look for a coat. I did. There on the rack was the coat God had prepared for me. That day I left the store with a coat that to my eyes looks exactly like my friend’s. God had remembered. I hadn’t, but God had.

Any number of coats I could have bought would have filled my heart with gratitude every time I wore them. Any number would have fit my personality. Any number would have kept me warm. But God didn’t want me to have just any coat. He wanted me to have a coat which would remind me of His specific love and care for me every time I wore it. I have a coat which reminds me that my God is an excellent listener and He rewards those who trust Him.

So much has changed on my journey of “poverty”. I have developed gratitude and trust to a degree that I didn’t know was possible. I have learned to live with an eternal mindset. I have redecorated my apartment to remind me that my life ought to be lived driven by eternity. I have surrounded myself with His purpose for my life.

Today I heard a preacher preach on God’s words to Abraham, “I am your shield and exceeding great reward.” What an endless promise!

How do you experience God’s provision? Do you have tangible reminders of God’s specific love for you? How can you challenge yourself to trust Him more?

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