I met a girlfriend for coffee in the middle of the week, snatched an hour before afternoon carpool to catch up. And we had a lot of it, catching up. A wedding, two teenage car accidents between us, and leaving the church where we met since the last time we talked. It turns out, timing is everything.
When she asked me how my daughter was doing, Murielle’s car accident didn’t even cross my mind. I was thinking teenage girl stuff, not trauma. November seems like a faded snapshot in the scrapbook of our busy lives. It was only two months since she narrowly escaped death and I’d already forgotten about it. Until I realized my girlfriend’s daughter had the same kind of accident with different results.
I’ve often doubted a few of the blurry-eyed decisions I made standing in the strewn fragments of twisted metal that night. Wondered if I should have said no to the thousand dollar ambulance drive they insisted she take to the hospital for a few moments with the doctor on call. The green scrubs with the furrowed brows who questioned why they brought her, when she seemed perfectly fine.
Her daughter said no to that ride. And the next day, she sat beside her parents in the hospital worrying about internal bleeding for the soreness and bruising. When she told me the bill was twelve thousand dollars; that her daughter struggled to finish her senior year and asked to see a counselor weeks after the accident, tears pooled in my eyes.
And I swallowed a lump of conviction floating on the surface of my latte.
I wasn’t convicted that my daughter walked away from the accident without injury. That she felt guilty about not feeling worse after being a literal inch from losing her life. Or that our bills were insignificant in comparison.
I was convicted that God doesn’t give us what we deserve. And for the way I’ve taken that for granted.
Amidst grocery shopping and meal planning, writing blog posts and leading bible studies, dusting and homework, I forgot. Forgot that every day I wake up with breath and hold my daughter on the couch after school is a gift.
Jesus gave the gift of extravagant grace in those moments He saved her life, more than I can earn in a lifetime.
I found my daughter curled up on the couch after that coffee date. Put my hand on her folded legs and told her the story about my girlfriend’s daughter. A reminder of how much God loves us, the way He illustrated that by saving her life that fateful night. We sat for a moment in silence and wiped our eyes.
Now I understand what Paul means when he says to give thanks in all circumstance, not for all of them.
How do your circumstances effect your ability to be grateful?
God has been impressing this gently but persistently upon my heart for the past two years. It all–well, not all of it, but a lot–started when I read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. I gained a whole new perspective on gratitude. I still carry the book in my purse, as both a reference and a reminder. I love your heart, and I am deeply grateful that I discovered you and your beautiful words. I keep coming back to your writing knowing God will always have a gift for me there. I am never disappointed.
You know I’ve been doing it too Lisa, keeping a list, not as diligently as I could be but I often forget what is right in front of me. Thank you so much for your kind words, you bless me big.
Oh Shelly, this is such a beautiful truth here. You know that verse in Thessalonians is my life verse. Trying to live it out has changed me in so many ways. God is so gracious to not give us what we deserve–but to instead love us without end and pour grace out over our struggles. His generosity is a gift we too often take for granted.
I didn’t know that, its a good one to lean on. His love is often too much for me to comprehend on most days but I’m so grateful for it. So very grateful.
Hard circumstances don’t affect my gratitude, but I notice they tend to make me go private with them, drawn into a more personal conversation with God.
They used to more than they do now for me Marilyn, and maybe that comes with life experience. And I do that too, wrestle with God internally. A lot. So nice to see you here.
Shelly…like Ann V says…spiritual amnesia…we all suffer from it…but counting…naming the graces daily continues to help me stay awake to His grace in my life and those around me…I number the same gift over many times…even though I have been healed years ago…I still number…being well and being able to run…it hasn’t always been this way for me…but once the Lord cracked my heart open through Ann’s writings…my vision has changed…my ebenezers have increased…my joy is more full…and I can’t stop counting because it wakes me up daily to all the ways He continues to love me and reminds me of all they ways He was faithful in the past.
Yes, I do love those descriptive words Ann so eloquently gave to us: spiritual amnesia. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. I love hearing your story about how the counting has transformed the way you see. Thanks for sharing about it here. You are truly a gift to all who know you.
Hi Shelly…I too, find myself looking at my circumstances differently after reading Ann Voskamp’s book. I try harder now to see what God may be trying to tell me in things that are happening around me. I work through things in my mind until I can thank God IN what’s happening, striving to see the higher purpose.
It’s a good excercise isn’t it Jillie? It gives so much freedom in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Hi Shelly, looks like God has been impressing this truth on a few of us here! I find myself feeling sorry for myself due to health issues and chronic pain. Then I read a post in Bob Goff’s “Love Does,” that caused me to draw in a breath. The tears came as I slowly let it out, and I felt grateful and humbled. Two days later, I needed another reminder. Thanks for giving it this morning!
I’m reading that book too. Got it this weekend and could hardly put it down. I know what you mean, I shed a few tears myself and was inspired by the stories he shares. And you are in good company, we all need reminders. I know I do.
I want to live each day with a grateful heart. I look forward to your reminders of His grace each time you pen your thoughts in such a profound way.
Me too, I don’t always do that, but I’m trying. Thanks Paula.
The part of this post that strikes me is the part about the $1,000 ambulance. I would’ve thought twice, too. This is something my kids are convicting me on, and I’m struggling to see clearly what the Lord wants to reveal.
I know Megan, I was thinking about how much money it was, yet the hospital bill was only $100. When I realized how it could’ve been $12,000 it was a wake up call. I didn’t even realize the grace in our situation until I heard her story. So convicted by it.
I’m so thankful for not getting what I deserve too. We have so many brushes with tragedy that we aren’t even aware of. So when we are aware, may we remember to give thanks more and more. Thanks for sharing this story…
I think we might fall to our knees on a regular basis if we really knew how He was shielding and protecting us from what we cannot see.
I’m writing this down on my gratitude list so I don’t forget…
The grandgirls spent the night with me last night. Naomi was two the first of the year. I started her night prayer for her…”Thank you, God for…” and she continued in almost whispered voice, “Jesus and Joseph.” She’s two but every day she reads from her bible storybook and Joseph is her favorite. Jesus loves her, this she knows. 🙂 Simple gratitude is what I need (like a child)—gratitude that comes not out great knowledge of how I know how God has blessed above and beyond what I deserve, but to know that He has. The bread- “Thank you.” The wine-“Thank You.” It all hinges on remembering this Sacrifice. And with thanks for these graces comes gratitude for all the other miracles of the undeserving life that is mine. How very humbling to be loved so…..
Oh, I can just see her sweet little face, eyelashes laying on her round cheeks saying, “Jesus and Joseph.” It was Samson for my daughter. She had to read the same story over and over again. And then she would recite it before I turned the page. I can’t wait to be a grandparent. I just wish I didn’t have to age to get there. 🙂 They teach us so much about life don’t they. *sigh*
Shelly, He certainly doesn’t give us what we deserve. Thank you for sharing this time with your friend, in the beautiful way that you do. We need each other (I love how God uses community) to help us not forget.
I can get isolated in the writing and then I realize how much I need to live, in order to write. Thank you.
He does not give me what I deserve. I am so grateful for the journey of gratitude that I’ve been on.
It seems I’m reminded daily of that Barbie. Thankful for you.
“Jesus gave the gift of extravagant grace in those moments He saved her life, more than I can earn in a lifetime.” Oh, amen to that. We take so much for granted. I do.
You illustrated this in a way that helps me better understand it, too – giving thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. Thank you for that. This perspective, this conviction, is a beautiful thing.
I hope your friend’s daughter is making a steady physical and mental recovery. After I was in a car accident with my mom during my college days, it was literally years before I could get into a car (we generally drive and ride in pick-ups) without crying.
Thank you for this piece – very convicting.