Posts Tagged thankful
All week long I’d been dreading today. Yesterday afternoon I felt myself getting more anxious and nervous because I knew the next morning I’d have to go in for my annual physical. Now this doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, but I hadn’t been to the doctor for a check up in at least 10 years. So my physical hasn’t exactly been “annual.” Still, this is just a routine exam everyone does, but I think I built up some kind of horrible image in my mind of what these annual doctor’s appointments were like from my childhood.
I used to be kind of okay with them when I was younger because my mom would take me to the doctor every year around my birthday. Then as I got a little older, I really started hating the doctor. I remember even trying to run out of the exam room (and I’m pretty sure I was at least in 4th, 5th, or 6th grade at this point) because I really didn’t want a blood test or a shot. It was that bad. At my last checkup, I remember being there for a sickness (maybe a cold or the flu or something) and the doctor was also going to draw my blood. I was at this appointment alone because I was a senior in high school, but apparently my mom had asked the doctor to do this as part of a routine physical. I told them I didn’t want them to do it, so they didn’t because I was 18 and they couldn’t make me do treatments that I refused to have done. That’s when I realized I now had power over what medical treatments I got because I was considered an adult.
It’s not that I haven’t been to the doctor at all since then. I still go to my specialists and I actually don’t have a problem with the dentist. I just didn’t want to see an internist because they draw your blood and order immunizations. I associated the doctor with pain.
So this morning when I woke up, I was not excited. I’d been convincing myself over the past several days that I can handle this. I’m an adult. This isn’t a big deal. I’ve gone through worse pain before. In 8th grade I broke my wrist falling off a pony and because I was scared of getting an IV, I opted to not stay overnight in the hospital and just have the doctor set my bone with his hands. Even with the novacane shots, it still hurt but somehow I managed to not scream, cry, or even make any kind of noise when he set my bone. The doctor was quite impressed. I also kept telling myself that I’m going to go through worse pain in the future (i.e. childbirth).
As I brushed my teeth this morning, this verse popped into my head:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6 NIV
Do not be anxious, but pray with thanksgiving? How can you be thankful for something that you’re anxious about? Well, right after that reminder, I prayed this prayer: “God, thank you for giving me access to great doctors and healthcare so that I can take care of myself. I know so many people around the world don’t have this opportunity.”
As I gave thanks to God for the same thing that was making me anxious and nervous, I was also reminded that I am blessed to be in this situation. It makes the potential pain I might feel from getting my blood drawn or from a vaccination seem less significant. I am grateful for this life God has given me because I know others–maybe even like Daniel, the boy from the Dominican Republic my youth group sponsors through Compassion International–would do anything to switch places with me for this kind of care.
I was still nervous, but I went to my appointment. I had my blood drawn and I got a tetanus shot. It wasn’t actually as bad as I’d made it out to be in my mind. In fact, when I got the tetanus shot (which Gerald was scaring me about earlier this week because he said it hurts more), I didn’t even feel it. I wasn’t even sure if I’d even had the shot done yet!
So my lesson in all of this: my fears are all mental. I built up this horrible image of what kind of pain I might endure at the doctor’s office, but really I had nothing to fear. I’m still not going to like going to the doctor because of the labs (but who does like being poked with needles?), but whenever I’m anxious about something else I’ll remind myself to think, How can I be thankful for this situation? What in this situation is there to be thankful for? And I’ll choose to focus on that instead of worrying about what will or will not happen.
As I take up my challenge to spend a week being thankful, I’ve reflected on the times when God has been faithful to provide in my life. It’s so easy to talk about trusting God to provide and to know that He has a great plan for my life, but it’s another thing to live like you believe that.
I remember first really worrying about my future when I was a senior in high school. It was around this time of year, actually. I only wanted to go to Taylor University in the fall for college, so I applied for early admission and didn’t apply anywhere else. My parents were okay with this, and so was I until I started getting nervous. I was supposed to find out in November if I got accepted or not and November was quickly coming to a close. I was pretty sure with my grades and ACT score that Taylor would accept me, but I kept asking myself, “What if…” I even started looking into possibly applying to Purdue as a backup school because their application was easy. I didn’t even want to go to Purdue and I knew nothing about their English program. I was trying to trust God about my future, but I wanted to be prepared just in case He didn’t come through.
That was the year I took up Jeremiah 29:11 as my “life verse.” Think what you want about life verses; I needed
something to cling to while I waited. Sure enough, the day before Thanksgiving, I got a letter–more like a packet. The kind where you know you got accepted because they’re sending you a big packet of stuff instead of a little rejection letter. That was one of the greatest Thanksgivings ever because I knew I had something to be thankful for–God provided my college acceptance to Taylor in His own timing and I never had anything to worry about. I went to Taylor and God worked out more of His plan for my life throughout that time up until now.
There were other times where I didn’t trust God’s plan while in college. Going into sophomore year I almost didn’t want to go back because one of my good friends who was supposed to room with me and another girl transferred in the summer. I was scared I’d be alone and not have any close friends at school. Basically, I worried. Then we got a freshman as our third roommate (I was in a triple and we were hoping it’d be a double with the other roomie gone). I wasn’t sure how that would work out either. I should’ve trusted more in God’s plan because the three of us–Alicia, me, and our new roommate Rachael, became great friends. Rachael was my roommate for three years and I love her. Those last three years of college were even better than the first and I knew I was in the place God wanted me to be.
There are a couple things I’ve learned from these past experiences:
1. God works on His own time, not mine. I continually have to remind myself of this. Whether it’s waiting to get a college acceptance letter, waiting for the day I’d have a boyfriend, waiting for those job interviews to pour in, or waiting for that engagement ring to come, I know that God will allow those things to happen on His timeline, not mine. If it were up to me, all those things would’ve happened sooner, but in making me wait and be patient, God has used that time to mature me and to draw me more to Him. As a senior in high school, I reminded myself that God’s timing is perfect–never early and never late. He knows what He’s doing.
2. God’s plans are way better than my plans. I’m a planner. I like to organize and plan events. I plan out my weeks and my days and I don’t like to get off schedule. It throws me off. I’m getting better at being flexible in this though. When I graduated from college, I didn’t have a job lined up. So I just moved back home and sort of looked for jobs while enjoying the break from school. My resume was up on job sites and I wasn’t being too proactive about applying, but somehow God had the communications manager at the Chicago Tribune call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a three-month freelance position. I interviewed later (though there’s more to this story) and ended up getting hired. After my three months, my boss kept adding another month, then another month, and finally he said I could stay until I found a full-time job. They even gave me a raise! Shortly after that, I got a call from Tyndale and ended up getting hired there soon after. Talk about God’s provision. I know having the Trib on my resume helped get me noticed, so when I look back, I can see how God provided all along.
So even now when I wonder what God’s doing with the timing of events in my life or what I’ll be doing in the next seven months, year, two years, or five years, I can think back on these moments when I’ve seen His faithful provision and perfect timing. Then I know I should “wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14 NIV)
How has God shown you that He is faithful?