I’m going to go against the grain here and acknowledge the fact that some of us might be in the midst of a season we are having a hard time appreciating. Maybe you are currently wondering what gives while so many give thanks. Are you one #ThankfulGratefulBlessed meme away from throwing your computer out the window? I feel you. Don’t think for a second you’re the only one. It is so easy to type out a status about all the ways you are looking at the bright side of your social media life, but reality isn’t so simple. You wanna know what I’m truly grateful for?? A God who understands how I’m feeling. A savior who knows my heart. A spirit who gets stronger in my weakness. A father who teaches me lessons in humble every month of the year. A friend who knows me deeper than what I post on fakebook. You don’t have to pretend to feel happy about every hardship you face. I really appreciate that. The greatest lessons I’ve learned occurred in ditches I didn’t feel the slightest bit of gratitude for at the time. So if that’s you right now, just know that the character you’ll be so glad to have will be realized in hindsight. If you’re in search of something to give thanks for…maybe make it for what’s to come. The harder life seems right now, the greater the good God can do with it in the future. IF you let him.
My seven-year-old niece, Ansley, grew sicker and sicker as she battled cancer. The last time I hugged her was while visiting for Christmas. It would be easy to say I was so grateful for the time with her. But in the moment I just felt robbed. I talked to God about all my true feelings and He helped me cope. He kept me grounded in truth. He allowed me to be confused, angry, and sad. I’m thankful for that. When she passed away it was hard to be told all the things we should feel grateful for. But what people said wasn’t expected from me by the only one who matters. He understood. He gave mercy. He gave grace. Through that grace at a time when I needed it, I was open to the good He could do through me in response to it. He has shown me over and over again that I’m loved, I’m enough, and I have a calling. He has revealed to me an ability to be happy when I should be mad, have joy when times are bad, and laugh…even when I’m sad. Through Him I’ve learned it’s ok to feel all the things, as long as I lay them down and allow His strength to fill my spirit. It would have been so easy to wallow in grief after such a tragic loss in our family. I could have been overtaken by anger, blame, and bad decisions. There were two options. Allow the pain to deepen and spread, or place the pain in a purpose for a good greater than me. I couldn’t do that without God’s understanding and peace. Nothing would bring her back, and I didn’t want to spend the time I wish she’d had wasting away in her memory. I wanted to honor her by allowing God to use me and the experience of our family, to help others in need.
He revealed to me the point. The point of life. The point of Jesus’ sacrifice. The point in my pain. Bad things happen every day. We live in a world full of evil and hate, among people with free will. So I’ve been challenged. What are you going to do while you’re here? What are you going to leave behind? I don’t know when I’ll go, how, or why. So how will people be impacted by the ripple I leave behind? Had I not been broken of people and opinions, by a loss that wasn’t fair, I wouldn’t have been open and able to see who was always there. We can’t control everything that happens, but we can decide what comes of our reactions. Through God’s love and the spirit’s guidance, I’ve been able to do something positive through each hardship. The last two years I’ve been able to fundraise almost $80,000 through a platform God plopped right into my lap. Helping other families in the position ours was once in has healed my heart more than any amount of wallowing ever could. God is that good. He takes each and every thing the enemy means to use against you, and with your permission, he makes it work for you and for others instead. That’s something to celebrate.
So if this season of thanks is feeling less than blessed for you, I’ll give you at least one thing almost too good to be true. Whatever you are facing, give it to God. You might not see it now, but He will use it for you in the future. I can always be give thanks for that.
Carolanne Miljavac is a Southern-raised, Jesus-saved, barely sane author, speaker, and social media goofball. She is married to a lucky man and is mother of three sweet, loving, kind little girls who only whine every now and then. Poverty and abuse were tough to overcome, but it was the crushing loss of her seven year-old niece to cancer that ﬁnally humbled her enough to listen to God when He spoke into her shattered heart, “Give it up.” Without the chains of fear and insecurity, she followed her spirit’s instruction to speak freely. She now has over 100 million video views and nearly half a million social media followers. Her purpose in life is to spread love and joy without sacriﬁcing honesty and truth.. Lots more information is available at camiljavac.com