Giving Thanks {When I Don't Feel Thankful}

It’s so easy to be thankful when things are going just how you imagined or hoped they would.  But what about when things are going all wrong?

That’s where I am. Things are all wrong. 

I thought we would be in South Africa right now.  Six months ago Jonathan’s job was preparing us to travel to Sandton, South Africa.  There was a client there who needed Jonathan’s skills for a five to six month contract.  We were scared and anxious about going when they first approached us.  We worried about our safety and the overall well-being for our innocent two year old son, Brody.

We prayed. And we asked those who were closest to us to pray about it for us.  Then, one Sunday in June, as we sat in church at Northpoint and listened to a message by Gavin Adams, God began to work in our hearts.  The message was part of a series entitled Amazing Stories.  That particular Sunday he was talking about David and Goliath.  It's such a popular story that most of us know, but the message that day was a more personal account of what David must have been thinking and feeling as he faced the giant.  I couldn't do the sermon justice even if I tried, but you can find it here {part 2} if you are interested.

Jonathan and I left church that day and went out to lunch with South Africa on our minds. After a lot of conversing, we finished our meal in the agreement that if the company in South Africa still wanted us, we would agree to go.

Jonathan told his boss the following day that we were all in.  I began researching the area in great detail, looking for homes to rent, noting the security of each one.  I checked on the CDC's website for all the things we needed to be sure to do before we left.  We were lining things up.  The more we heard from his company that it was looking like a sure thing, the more we did to prepare.  I went to get a passport for Brody and I.  Jonathan and I went to get immunizations and a yearly check-up.  We began telling more friends and family about the possibility and lining up visitors who were willing to travel across the world to see us and keep us company.   Then, in August, Jonathan's job told us they were 99% sure we were going to be needed over there at the beginning of October.  So, I quit my job.

I had to tell each of my little patients {I'm a pediatric physical therapist} that I would no longer be coming to visit them each week.  I introduced each one them and their families to their new therapist, taking pictures and giving big hugs before I left.  It was bittersweet.  I hated to leave such sweet babies and kiddos who needed me, but I just knew I was headed on the right track.

Our living expenses would be covered in South Africa...and then some. We would be able to pay off over half of my hefty graduate school loan.  We would be able to immerse ourselves in a culture I had always dreamed of one day visiting {thinking I would be lucky to spend a day there...much less six months}.  I would be able to focus on nothing but Brody and Jonathan for half a year.  Just our little family was all I was going to have to worry about for the first time in my life.  That made this little momma's heart overjoyed!

October came and we still had not heard.  We were sent down to Florida for another client which gave us the opportunity to spend some time with my parents {Jonathan's parents were out of town} before going to South Africa.  My parents set up their home for Christmas before we got there and let Brody unwrap gifts once we arrived since they wouldn't get to spend Christmas with him this December.

With Florida and our families behind us, we traveled back to Atlanta at the end of October.  That's when we heard.  The deal had fallen through.  We weren't going to South Africa. Ever.

What, God??

How did this happen?  How was I so sure this was what you wanted for us? So sure that I quit my job?

I still don't have answers to those questions.  But I do know that I am happier as a full time stay-at-home mommy....even if we are still in Atlanta and not South Africa.  I always knew I wanted to stay home full-time with my little ones.  I just somehow lost sight of my desires when I ended up pregnant my last year of graduate school.  I felt the pressure. I had gone to school for seven years...acquired my doctorate...acquired a hefty loan to go along with the three little letters at the end of my name.  How could I not work?

So I accepted that even though we weren't going to go to South Africa and come back nearly debt free, I became a SAHM because of the situation {and that was worth the six months of uncertainty}.

But I haven't been completely at peace.  There has been something else going on these past six months.  Amidst the uncertainty of South Africa, we have been trying for another baby.  Trying but unsuccessful so far.

Please hear me out before you continue reading.  In no way do I equate my six months of trying to the trials of those that have been facing infertility or difficulty becoming pregnant for many years.  I am beyond close to many of those that struggle with these issues, so please understand that I know my trials are so very small in comparison. Really.    

But my heart hurts nonetheless.

It was so easy to get pregnant with Brody.  We weren't trying at all.  In fact, we were protecting against, but God knew he was the perfect little baby for us and bypassed all we were doing to keep from having a baby at the time.  {And PRAISE THE LORD He did!}

When I was pregnant with Brody, I didn't have a single friend who was pregnant nor one who already had a baby.  I felt alone as a new mother.  I didn't have anyone to express those new mother feelings to that could validate the way I was feeling.  If you are a mother, you know the feelings I am referring to.  They are difficult emotions to face alone.  All I wanted was someone to connect with on that level.

So now here we are, trying for our second child, and almost every friend I am close to is pregnant or just had a baby.  But, we can't seem to get pregnant as easily as we did the first time.

Why, God? 

Things are all wrong.

At least that is what I thought...until this past Sunday morning.  We attended my old church in my hometown where the message from Titus Greene was about giving thanks when it's not easy to find a reason to be thankful.

You can listen to the message here. {It's the message entitled "Thanksgiving" from November 27, 2011}

Because I could never reiterate the message, this may not make any sense unless you listen to the message above.

But through Titus, God taught me that His will for me is to give thanks in all circumstances, even the difficult ones.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  "Rejoice Always. Pray without ceasing.  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  

In learning to give thanks through the difficult circumstances in our life, God is molding us to be more like Christ.

James 1:2-4  "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  

So that is where I am right now....learning to give thanks for even the seemingly bad situations.  When I become discouraged that we are not in South Africa getting out of debt and when my heart feels saddened that we are not yet pregnant, I begin to give thanks.  I give thanks because I trust God and what He is doing in my life right now.  Even though it is hard and the thought of it is bringing me tears as I write this.  I trust Him. 

Thank you, God, for not allowing us to go to South Africa.  Thank you for not blessing us with a child just yet.  I don't know why you have withheld these things, but I trust you and I am thankful that you know the plan even when I don't.  

Jeremiah 29:11  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." 


  1. I have lots of thoughts and emotions flowing here...First of all, thank you for sharing your heart! I know you said you hadn't read my last few posts yet-I think you need to. It's funny how God works.
    God used the South Africa trip to nudge you into the place you wated and needed to be. He knew you needed the push. We pray that He gives us the desires of our heart, right? And now He will use this testimony to touch others! I love you!

  2. Oh, I'm praying for you guys, Lauren! I think even those who are medically considered infertile can look back at those first six months of trying and remember that they were just as hard - I know how you are feeling. Praying for some good news soon!

  3. Sounds like you are really embracing God's plan for you.

    I have a hard time staying thankful when things are going wrong.

  4. I am so grateful for this post, Lauren. I've been asking, "Why, God?" a lot lately - you have helped remind me to be thankful for all things and in all circumstances.

  5. Such a great post! I agree with Callie, even the first 6 months were hard for us! Praying for you!


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