Almost three years ago I glimpsed this little sign in a bookstore while my husband and I were visiting our college town (without kids, hallelujah!!!!!!). We had returned to the States from Turkey mere days earlier, so I was jet-lagging and reverse culture shocking (it’s real, folks), and I ran my fingers absentmindedly across its textured surface. It was only $10, but I was feeling overwhelmed with all of the STUFF in America, and refrained from buying it.
Days later, I found myself thinking of the little sign and wishing I had forked over the ten bucks. I remembered my brother-in-law’s mom worked at the bookstore, and asked my sister to ask if she would get the sign for me.
Months later, we were back in Turkey and I unpacked the sweet little reminder to Be Thankful, and sat it on top of our monstrosity of a television (it was bulky and took up tons of space, but I loved I could set stuff on top of it!). I thought that way we could see it constantly, and be reminded to approach life’s circumstances with thankfulness.
Weeks after returning home, some heating pipes needed to be redone in our apartment and it turned into a stressful day for me since I was kicked out of my house with very little warning while the workmen tore apart each room in our apartment systematically to redo the piping. While the workers were moving the television stand, my Be Thankful sign toppled and broke. My husband knew I would be upset about my precious sign, so he hid away the pieces and tried to glue them back together, hoping I wouldn’t even be able to tell. He was able to recover most of the parts, but although he searched all over, he never found the top of the ‘n’.
I found a new home for my little reminder, and it has stayed constant through life’s ups and downs these past two years. When we faced grief over failed adoption attempts and hard culture stress, it faithfully perched on top of a bookshelf in the living room. When we played rounds of UNO and laughed ourselves silly over dance parties, Be Thankful twinkled over those moments. When we had puking kids, and raised voices, and homesick hearts, our reminder prevailed. When we hosted guests, served meals and tea, when we just held each other in sadness on the couch. When friends moved away, and kids learned to read, and blanket forts covered the whole room. When we giggled, and snuggled, and rested, and watched, and enjoyed, and talked, and argued, and sang. When we hid and waited to be sought out in play, when we had pizza and movie nights, when we first saw the photos and videos of our little girl– Be Thankful was the anthem over all these moments and more.
Recently, my beloved sign found a new home. (I have this crazy nest-maker tendency to tweak and move and rearrange our home which absolutely endears me to my sweet husband, as I’m sure you can imagine.) Less than a week in its new home, my Be Thankful reminder had another collision with the floor. Bits of letters were again broken off.
I wanted to be sad because I love this little sign that has been a part of our home for years now. Hubby worked his glue magic and restored broken pieces again. But you can see the cracks. Which kind of bothered me, and I thought about how I could maybe find another sign when we are in the States this fall. But then I really looked. And really thought about what it means to Be Thankful. As believers, we aren’t thankful only when life is going our way. Our joy is not dictated by circumstances dipping in our favor every time. In fact, the Bible is full of examples of exactly the opposite– Paul exhorting us to rejoice from a prison, David singing about sacrifices of thanksgiving, Habakkuk determining to be joyful in the Lord no matter what. If we’re honest, it’s the tragedies, hard things, and the sufferings that pull us closer to the Father and make us more like Jesus.
Our thankful is more beautiful when it’s broken. When we bear the scars of trials and grief and yet our hearts are joyful in the Lord, we bring glory to Him.
It’s not easy to Be Thankful when life is cracked and hard. But a broken Thankful is precious in the eyes of Jesus, who is our greatest example of giving thanks for hard things,
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
My Be Thankful will be missing a piece of a letter forever. And it has some cracks where glue is holding the broken parts together. But I don’t think I’m gonna replace it. It’s an even better reminder now, that a beat-up, stressed out, fallen down, and aching Thankful is the way we are supposed to live out our time here on earth.
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90)