This is to the one who may not be feeling very thankful this Thanksgiving Day, I feel you. Keep reading, I hope to change your heart, and in so doing, mine.
I am grieving.
A loss that I did not foresee.
A choice by another I did not make or want.
A love so deep I am uncertain who I am without it.
A hope of a beautiful life with my best friend.
My heart is broken and devastated, crushed and shattered.
All the others before this one were just breakups, this one, this time, will forever change me.
While I am working through the profound grief with my therapist, my family and dear friends, the holidays are here and I am just not fa la la la laing it. I cannot predict when the waves of sadness that pull me under are going to hit and the only choice I have in those moments is to face it, pray and not lose sight of Jesus' hand. In those hard moments, I hurt, ache, lament, grieve, am broken and the tears pour.
But yesterday, while surfing a wave, I remembered....
In 2015 I was introduced to Ann Voskamp. She had released her book One Thousand Gifts and it caught the christian world by storm and spent 30 weeks on the NYTimes Best Seller List. It's a gorgeous read encouraging us to be ever mindful of the small, seemingly inconsequential moments of ones day that can become the treasures of our heart. It was she who introduced me to a word that I cannot forget.
This word can change everything: eucharisteo
It comes from the Gospel of Luke: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them … ” Luke 22:19
In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.”
Ann says, "The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks".
Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy.
Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo; the table of thanksgiving. The holy grail of joy, God set it in the very center of Christianity. The Eucharist is the central symbol of Christianity. One of Christ’s very last directives He offers to His disciples is to take the bread, the wine, and to remember. Do this in remembrance of Me. Remember and give thanks.
This is the crux of Christianity: to remember and give thanks, eucharisteo.
Why? Why is remembering and giving thanks the core of the Christ-faith? Because remembering with thanks is what causes us to trust; to really believe. Re-membering, giving thanks, is what makes us a member again of the body of Christ. Re-membering, giving thanks is what puts us back together again in this hurried, broken, fragmented world.
While we may have to navigate the ache of this wounded world, we can remember the Israelites: God sometimes feeds us manna, that which literally makes no sense to us, the “what is it?” food, and He asks us to eat the mystery of circumstances we don’t understand. How to find gratefulness when we weep? Does it comfort at all to know that in the midst of our pain, God is keeping a list? A list that turns us and the cosmos inside out and changes everything, changes me and my perspective and the way I record my life:
“You have recorded my troubles. You have kept a list of my tears. Aren’t they in your records?” Psalm 56:8
God does not slumber for He cannot cease to bear testimony to our hurt. God keeps a list.
It’s the wildest love that drives the Father to record his child’s every lament.
We never ache without God attending, and he can’t stand to see a tear fall to the floor.
God cups our grief and puts our tears in his bottle.
It’s love that makes God a list-keeper of our brokenness, and it’s our love for Him that can make us list-keepers of our blessings.(Theology of Work interview)
My therapist recommended I do this a week ago and it is healing. Write the blessing list. Remember. Remember the moments in your everyday, the small, seemingly inconsequential details that would fill your heart with eucharisteo. Remember that God is faithful. Remember that He sees your hurt. Remember ALL He promises. Be thankful for all of it. The highs. The lows. The blessings. The lessons. The setbacks. The comebacks. Everything. Know that God often causes a season of separation to launch us into a higher elevation. I will be remembering with you this day and in this we might meet together in communion.
May today you find grace in your thanksgiving that brings you abounding joy. Beautiful, sacred eucharisteo.