The man with the wife who wouldn’t leave her house anymore, he’d told me there was only so much that he could take.
I had no idea what to say to that.
Sometimes words can’t resuscitate like silence can. So I’d nodded. And I hoped he heard my wordlessness pounding hard on heaven’s door for him, pounding hard on lungs to just inhale a bit of hope, and I’d seen it in his eyes.
Because it can feel like that: When you are giving everything you have, you can only take so much.
He’d been like a brother to the Farmer and I. We’d known him since we were sixteen. We had gone to his wedding. He had rocked Shalom to sleep.
He’d worked with my dad and we’d all farmed dirt together and we had walked whole herds of old swaying sows down gravel backroads and my mama called him her other son and she called him every other week and she prayed with him and for him and because of him. There are men of few words but of the Word.
I stood there in the light under leaves. He said the anxiety and depression just left her paralyzed all day and he missed who his wife had been, but nothing could make him stop holding her. So he was waking in the dark and working through the night while she slept so he could hold her through the waking hours when she’d forget how to breathe. The children all jumped in the leaves.
I saw it when he turned, his courage when he laughed. Joy is the way to live bravest of all.
That’s how he looked to me:
The man looked incarnational, God never sleeping or slumbering either, then holding us all through the day.
What grabs a hold of a woman and makes her fear a day and herself and letting anyone get close?
What makes joy elusive and cynicism easy and stress normal and why do women choke down pills and food and shame instead of choking out what’s wrong? What makes us scared to death to be real… so we just live dead?
They say anger makes us anxious, that anger makes us depressed, all this rage that we keep swallowing that makes us weak and sick.
This anger that we keep downing that gives us a soul ache.
Somehow there has to be this opening up, this expressing, this releasing and letting go. Somehow we have to be real and unafraid and live because there’s only this once here. Thing is, life’s got a label: Straight venting can cause steam burns.
Anger can kill you if you bury it — or if you don’t give it to God.
Venting hurts your-self, Biblical lamenting heals your-soul — bravely expressing pain while unwavering in the unrelenting goodness of God.
A woman I know, she Hannah-prayed for a decade for a miracle to split and divide and multiply right in her. It happened, the impossible happened, and us old women laughed at the wonders of His grace. When bleeding stained joy at 8 weeks, she clenched herself knuckle white, wild to release nothing. Us old women begged God, begged for a baby to unfold out of our pleas, begged for all this bleeding to stop in the name of the One who let blood already.
She whispered to me:
“I was sobbing last night, wrestling to hold this baby with an open hand… I couldn’t sleep. Until I started Thanking Him. For everything. It was the only thing that calmed my heart…”
The boys are piling oak leaves up like a soft place to land.
And I saw it — when Shalom had reached over in this carefree childlike abandon and grabbed his hand and held his hand while she talked his ear off, how something in him slumped grateful.
I had wanted to weep for the grace of it, the faith-love of a child, and how a man needed it.
When you are giving everything you have and you can only take so much — Christ kneels close with arms stretched open wide: “Let Me take the rest.”
Paul hadn’t just suggested it — he commanded that we must:
… “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16–18).
And there’s this wife who can’t get out of bed and a man breaking for her, breaking himself for her, and a woman trying to open her hand to a God who may take away the deepest prayers and parts of her, and we’re all breaking here, we’re all choking down all this hurt, and how in the name of glory is there this command to be joyful?
The boys are jumping in everything falling now.
They are jumping in light, in shadows, jumping in everything that’s given away and let go and has been lost to the wind.
Praying continually, this thanks in all things, this is what fulfills the commanding ache for joy always.
Giving thanks in all things is how to pray continually — and this is the way to get to the joy. This is the way to do God’s will for your right now.
Thanks to God is what that calms the wild heart.
Anger makes us sick and weak and bound and the therapy is in the thanks.
Thanks therapy is God’s prescription for joy.
This isn’t trite — this is treatment. Breathing oxygen to live, it can seem ridiculously simple too. Jesus always leaves the option open for you to choose: “Do you want to be well?”
Sometimes we hurt so bad, we can’t even think to say yes, we forget how to mouth thanks. I stand with the man who just keeps holding a woman, who just keeps breathing thanks for her until she remembers and breathes on her own.
We stand there together watching the kids picking up everything fallen, throwing their hands to the heavens with everything falling, everything such a mess, a beautiful mess, and their laughter like light.
And in all the leaves, all in the mess, it’s right here:
Everything that falls, turned back to thanks, unlikely therapy turning a fallen world.
All the way up the hill after, Shalom held his hand.
and counting more of the One Thousand Gifts that never end… thanks for Christ who does it all, gives it all…
#4467… for hard eucharisteos and standing with friends right there
#4468… praying through tears with the Farmer — for whatever God has
#4469… that we have a song
#4470… the doctor’s appointment yesterday and listening to lungs and iron for extreme anemia
#4471… for days of simply quieting in Christ
#4472… for kindreds who sincerely pray
#4473… cousins and leaves
#4474… #13 on NYTimes … that God would keep daring His people to fully live a life of joy
#4475… thank therapy
#4476… for God who holds and calms the heart…
Day 12: Catch the whole 31 Days to Crazy Joy series right here
Free October Joy Dare: Look for 3 gifts each day to give thanks for. Print for the fridge. Dare the family to Joy!
And why bother keeping a gratitude list of His gifts?
Because those who keeping a gratitude list:
1. Have a relative absence of stress and depression. (Woods et al., 2008)
2. Make progress towards important personal goals (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
3. Report higher levels of determination and energy (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
4. Feel closer in their relationships and desire to build stronger relationships (Algoe and Haidt, 2009)
5. Increase your happiness by 25% — (Who wouldn’t want a quarter more happiness!) (McCullough et al., 2002)
Who doesn’t want all that?
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16–18).”
Will you join us? And happily change everything by keeping your own crazy list of One Thousand Gifts? Please, jump in, make your life about giving thanks to God! — Just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other in our refrain of thanks by sharing the community’s graphic within your post. Give thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever!