I’m not gonna lie, Thanksgiving hasn’t always been my favorite.
In the years when I was my own favorite subject, this holiday seemed to bring out all kinds of crazy in me as it seemed to shine a big, bright spotlight on to what I didn’t have. I didn’t have enough money in the bank and I didn’t live near my family at the beach. My friends felt few and far between. I didn’t have a husband and I didn’t have children. I rarely felt thankful.
I would come to be with family and would end up tainting the spirit of the day. I’d sulk as I ‘d help peel potatoes, chop celery, wash dishes, polish the remaining silver. “Meh” was written all over my face when a family member would share about a pregnancy, a job promotion, or a new boyfriend. The smallest of things would get to me. All it would take would be a tone, a look.. and you’d think the media should be alerted.
One day, the worst and the best happened. I put down the glass and picked up a new life.
Broken pieces were gradually put back together again as I began to see the world didn’t revolve around me. Ugliness was replaced with beauty as my lens began to refocus off of myself and on to others. I learned the benefits of consciously and intentionally loving people through my actions. With practice, I adopted a thankful attitude and began to see how celebrating others in turn only served to celebrate me. Oh, it didn’t come all at once, but with a strong mentor and arrows from the Spirit, I began to experience a calm I’d never known before. I thanked God out loud for His goodness and at long last, I discovered peace.
Give thanks to God – He is good and His love never quits. ~1 Chronicles 16:34
And now, I can’t stop saying it: God is good. To say it out loud reinforces my belief that it is true: God is good. No matter what might hit… God is still good.
With my love and my sadness
I come before You Lord
My heart’s in a thousand pieces
Maybe even more
Yet I trust in this moment
You’re with me somehow
And You’ve always been faithful
So Lord even now
When all that I can singPerformed by Mandisa Written by Gina C. Boe, Tony Wood, Ronnie C. Freeman, Jr.
Is a broken hallelujah
When my only offering
Is shattered praise
Still a song of adoration
Will rise up from these ruins
I will worship You and give You thanks
Even when my only praise
Is a broken hallelujah
Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker, independent music artist, blogger, and teacher. To see more of her blogs, visit here.
I have never been a huge fan of sugary things. Pie or cake? Nah. Chocolate? Meh. With the exception of gummi bears, I can pretty much take it or leave it. But I have learned that I can’t live without a certain kind of sweet.
One morning after I had spoken at a women’s event, a young woman came up to me at my CD table. She introduced herself and said she had a question for me after hearing my story.
“You seem so content that you never got to be a mom”, she said. And then asked “Are you content?”
I had to stop for a second and think. Was I indeed… content?
Here’s the thing: I had always wanted to be a mom. From as far back as I could remember I wanted it more than anything.
I had been a focused businesswoman up through my forties and hadn’t married until I was 41. And with a new husband 11 years my senior, it became clear to me that having a child together was not the right path for us. So although my dream of finding my lifelong partner was exceeded beyond my wildest dreams, the dream of ever having a child… died.
I’m not going to lie. Waiting all those years to find God’s man for me was tough but this… this was a bitter pill to swallow.
But 14 years ago, disguised as a personal crisis, God gave me a shot at a “do over”. Doggone it if He didn’t let me start my life all over again when He gave me the chance to get out of myself, grow up and grow deep with Him, and I grabbed it with gusto. He began maturing me in all areas of my life, showing me in spades that He had my back and wanted me to experience all that life had to offer. I dug deep into His Word to learn more what that meant and realized one day that I had given in, had completely accepted what He had for me, and had developed a desire to want what He wanted for my life.
It just didn’t appear that having a child was going to be one of those things.
But here’s the thing. Over time, I began to realize that accepting life on life’s terms left a sweet taste in my mouth… and besides, I learned there are a lot of other ways to be a real mom. Here are a few I’ve found:
When I married Wolf, an extraordinary stepdaughter came with the deal who I couldn’t love any more than if I’d given birth to her myself. (Mariah often jokes that it’s a darned good thing I didn’t because if I had, she might’ve gotten my thin hair!)
Wolf and I host young people in our home from all over the world who come here to study English. In the time they are with us, we are given entrance into their hearts and thoughts as we pour into them, striving to provide as full a cultural, family, and spiritual experience as possible. Some of the richest times we’ve had in the last few years have been with these kids and I wouldn’t trade the experience of being “Mama Sillye” for anything.
For 13 years, I’ve gotten to be a “co-mom” with moms all over the third world who are unable to take care of their children on their own. As a result of events at which I and my partner Billye have spoken, over 5,000 moms have fewer worries about their kids’ futures because American “moms” have sponsored their child*. The mother of a child I sponsor in Africa humbled me to my bones when she thanked me for helping her raise her children. Me??
Up until very recently, I had the honor of hosting a group of young women in my living room every Tuesday night for five years who still call me their “BFF spiritual mom”. Each week, I got to guide them through God’s Word where I wanted them to see how sweet their life could be if they could just develop a taste to want what He wants. We went through breakups, marriages, cancer, pregnancy, and job woes and they began to see that peace is possible, regardless of our circumstances.
You can’t tell me I haven’t been able to be a mom.
So when that young woman asked me that day if I was content, I had to be honest when I said I was not. But what I could tell her was that, in all honestly, I was in full agreement with God on His choice for my life. Today, I get it. Today I see why He withheld this “dream” of mine and I joyfully accept and embrace the extraordinary life He has given me in exchange.
When life turns out differently than the stuff of our dreams, we have a choice. We can get bitter, wasting months and years pining for what we didn’t get, or we can begin to recognize there are just simply things we won’t understand on this earth and accept what comes our way, relishing what we DO have.
And with that, taste the delectable calm that accompanies the sweetness of acceptance.
With all your heart trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. Proverbs 3:5-6 CEV
Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker living in Southern California.
When you look at this image, what do you see? One person might say it’s a silhouette of a woman while the next sees a man playing a sax.
So which is it?
A singer on a stage will hear something vastly different when staring down the throat of the speaker’s horn than what she hears upon taking just two steps to the right. The dark image up ahead the hiker is sure is a bear ends up being a rock when he advances just 20 feet. The neighbor who bugs the snot out of you today ends up being a treasure after you find out she’s the one who called the police when an intruder broke in your house. A prolonged period of great financial uncertainty becomes the very thing that confirms deep in your spirit that you can’t only depend on your own ability.
When circumstances suck, many of us get stuck. But even a tiny step in either direction can make that which we initially viewed or heard or felt one way suddenly look, feel, and sound completely different.
When I came face to face with my alcoholism 13 years ago, life seemed to be over. It was as if I’d been bathing in emotional cement which had hardened when I wasn’t looking and I couldn’t see my way out of the mess I’d created. I’d failed everyone I loved and everything I attempted and felt nothing but shame about who I’d become. I was stuck and wanted to die.
After walking block after block down the depressing road that was my life, out of nowhere I took a right and found myself on a new path. Here, nothing looked familiar but man-oh-man, the light felt good. On this road, there were trees and empty lots where kids played basketball, and all that would come out of my mouth was “thank You”. With the help of good people, a solid program, and a new understanding of a great God, the reflection I’d see in the windows as I passed revealed that indeed, I was beginning to look like a new creature. Over time, the feeling of shame that had choked out all semblance of living within me was replaced with the overwhelming awareness that it had all been a gift.
My friend Ann showed us how it’s done recently after a long and devastating battle with cancer. As she began to take the turn on to heaven’s road, she chose not to feel sorry for herself but rather to thank God through it all. She continued to thank Him, even up to the time she gracefully moved from her current location to her celestial zip code last week, inspiring all who watched her go through the fire.
When one of my girls was hit with breast cancer this Spring at the age of 30, she decided to articulate gratitude instead of swimming in fear as she went through a double mastectomy. Though still dealing with it, Erin has come through this ordeal a vibrant and catalytic believer, profoundly influencing the spiritual lives of all she touches.
Is that really all it takes? Yah, pretty much. That, and a belief that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to a place of wholeness. Things we thought were insurmountable become small mounds when we give it up, make it a practice to turn it over to God on a daily basis, and watch the Spirit do mind-blowing things inside of us.
I believe this stuff, I really do, and everything has changed as a result. Is my life all sewn up? Not even close. In fact, at this writing I’m going through one of the scariest things I’ve ever faced. I’m anxious and I’m scared– but I’m not derailed. In fact, I see my connection to God deepening and the size of my own agenda decreasing as my eyes are glued to His. When life is going well there is a tendency to give Him a fleeting glance but I thank Him for this trial because through it, I’m getting more in the “habit of Him” as I hang on to Him more than ever before. I also know I need people who want the same things I do. I need caring souls to refresh my memory that I’m God’s very favorite child or I’ll get caught in the cement again. I need folks with a sunny outlook and a great faith to remind me that God is nuts about me and doesn’t want me to stay stuck. Perspective shift? You bet. In fact, the way I see it these days is that I have the extraordinary life I have today all because once upon a time I drank too much. No matter what your issue is, we have Power available to us to squash our flaws, foibles, failures, and fears– we only need to seize it… and live like we believe it.
Maybe the skyscrapers on the road you’re on are so tall they’re blocking out the light. It seems no one notices your feet are dragging. But up ahead is an intersection; you can keep walking down this street or you can make a turn up in the next block. You may be unemployed, on the verge of divorce, ill, bankrupt, or just plain lonely. Take a different path. Hang a right. Get out from in front of your computer, have someone move your bed, bring the phone closer to you… whatever you’re doing or wherever you are, call or go talk to someone. Now. One of my favorite passages from James says “Tell your stuff to another person”; the words on the page actually say “confess your sins one to another” but what it’s telling us is open your mouth and tell another human being the exact nature of what you’re up against. Why? “So you may be healed”. Healed. Trite? Maybe. But pinky swear, this stuff works.
It takes guts, but come on… you can do it. Hang a right.
“I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor (wo)man called and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 34:4-6
Sylvia is a singer and Christian women’s speaker, and lives in Southern California.