Think of an extra-tough time you’ve gone through. Okay, maybe not the most joy-filled request.
Now, look at the definition of thankful:
1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful – grateful and appreciative
2. of, relating to, or expressing thanks – a thankful feeling – thankful words
Curious why I’m asking you to think of an extra-tough time, as well as defining what thankful means? It’s to help you understand what got me—as years went by—to be closer to actually being thankful for these two, somewhat life-changing hardships I’d gone through. (1*) (2*)
Thankfulness. Do I want you to think that from day one I was filled with thankfulness when my teenage pregnancy soap opera started? Or, do I want you to think I was overflowing with thanks shortly after my brain-damaging encephalitis hit, that had me unable to even understand who God was TO thank? Am I saying that that one question, ‘Why, God?’ was nowhere to be found during both of those times? Of course not. As a matter of fact, if it could have been visible, “Why, God?” would have been bubbled over my head more hours of the day than not. I bet all of you reading this have had that bubble at least once, and that it seemed, at the time, impossible to pop.
God, having saved me when I was eighteen years old, was who I gave so many thanks to, as most things went by pretty smoothly that first year before these two time periods began. This verse fit perfectly:
Ephesians 5:2 – Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
But bang, things changed. I was so young in my Christian walk when I was hit with the first of these two trials. There had only been one year of God’s word and guidance before that larger-than-life trial occurred, followed by the next one only a few years later.
Being thankful for trials, along with understanding what God’s providence even meant, were both still hard to fully understand. It was hard to even find a little drip-drip-drip of thankfulness for either. Yes, I did sense God’s Fatherly care in both, but thankfulness that He decided to have me need that care sure wasn’t standing out. The word ‘thankful’ was folded up as many times as possible, put in the back pocket of those jeans I never wore.
I knew God was holding me, but the fact that He had reasons for it all was hard to find as those early years went by.
Hearing those common words, ‘God has reasons,’ caused me to think ‘But what ARE they?’ That question was glued in my thoughts as every day, week, and month I was pregnant went by, and especially after every day, week, and month after my illness went by.
As time did go by, however, I—how shall I say it—started wearing those jeans I seldom wore, sensing something going on in that back pocket. Something was unfolding.
James 1:12 slowly began making sense.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
To be continued.
1* First trial – Unplanned pregnancy
What was a typical day like for your average nineteen-year-old thirty years ago? When you woke up, you were glad there was nothing electronic close at hand to open up the world to you. You, alone, away from it all…perfect. Once awake, you’d turn on your favorite radio station or you’d rewind your cassette to hear your favorite Billy Joel, Whitney Houston, or Lionel Richie song again.
You were thrilled your parents got that extra-long phone cord so you could, at last, leave the kitchen and walk into the bathroom to talk to your friends.
“Well, then call me as soon as you get back home. I have to tell you something,” or “If no one answers, I’ll call later. Just make sure you are by a phone when home,” were statements often said.
It was hard to decide which one of those six stations to watch on that big, boxy TV.
You loved grabbing the delivered daily newspaper your parents had on the kitchen counter to check movie times.
Later on, it was time to put eighty-nine-cents-per-gallon gas in your stick shift before picking up a few friends, grabbing ninety-nine-cent double cheeseburgers at McD’s before watching the movie called Star Trek lV, or The Voyage Home, that cost a whopping $2.75 to see. That’s what life was like for me when I was nineteen.
Until, that is, I found out I was pregnant. (1*) Life was so different back then, and I felt so alone. I’m certain many women feel like that even today, but because of the way we now have such easy access to helpful information, I think it’s safe to say, thankfully, that not quite so many feel as alone as I did.
There were no cell phones back in 1986, so, when sitting in my car, away from the world, I couldn’t secretly look up information on where to get a pregnancy test.
No laptops, I-pads, or cell phones to tweet #unplannedpregnancies. No opening up your laptop to type in www.crisispregnancy.com, either. No putting in ‘first trimester’ to get a long list of websites covering the subject. I would have loved to have found a Facebook group for Christians going through an unplanned pregnancy, or Twitter to find encouraging verses and quotes. But no. I felt like I was in my own little world, not able to connect with any Christians who had been, or were, going through what I was experiencing. I now know that if I did not have my church family during that time, I would have gone bonkers. But still, there was no one to Skype with who could look at me, face-to-face, and say, “Let’s talk. Believe me, I know what it’s like and how you’re feeling.”
Unplanned pregnancies can be dealt with quite a bit differently now than thirty years ago. Now, you can get info about anything from anywhere. Heck, you can even get your best help or support from total strangers all around the world! I’m sure I would have been getting information and insight from my I-phone, I-pad, or I-mac. (Yes, you can call me an I-fan!) There are also more organizations that have opened their doors for needed tests, information, and support.
For years, I put off writing my story being as so much had changed since I was pregnant. Then it hit me. Unplanned pregnancies are still that: un…planned…pregnancies. They were the same back then as they are now: an unexpected shock to women, followed by overwhelming emotions and stress for all involved. Once realizing this, I then decided—with encouragement from others—to write my book, showing what I went through. (2*) Yes, the means of getting helpful information about this type of pregnancy may now be different, and the number of people you are able to connect with who are going through the same thing can sure help one feel less alone, but overall, we’re still the same. Back then and now, our hearts and minds are where our feelings and thoughts are stored.
And God’s the same, as well! That’s the best fact. He has not changed how He carries those who follow Him. He sure carried me then and He sure carries His children now.
Hebrews 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Sure, He might now use that perfect website to guide you in what help or information to get. I just know I’d never change what He used to guide me to what was best.
The good old yellow pages. (3*)
1* – Click here to read what it was like when I took the pregnancy test.
2* – Click here to read what got me to write my book
3* Click here to find out how the yellow pages fit into my story