On Giving Thanks For the Life You Were Pretty Sure You Didn't Want.
For the last month and a half, this has been my constant prayer as I drive through pink-streaked skies and snowy landscapes: “Lord, thank you for leading me to the places I would never have gone to if I was in control.” This place, the leading into this season is one of those things I would never had courage or bravery to do.
Here’s an important thing to know about me: I like to know the ending before I begin anything. My mom has recently called this, “protecting my heart” but I like to think of it as a means of risk assessment. You calculate the risk before you get invested. I skim the endings of books, I read Wikipedia synopsis's of TV shows I’m about to start watching, and I have an uncanny ability to guess surprises that are about to come my way. Not only do I like knowing endings, but I’m relatively good at predicting what the ending will be.
In case you have missed it, at the very beginning of September, I moved to Edmonton. I squished in as many goodbyes & hellos as I could, I loaded up many books and a lot of warm clothing into a Chevy Equinox, and drove with my mom through America and into Alberta, the province I’m calling home for the next few years. I moved for a job, doing cool things with cool people, with a job in the field I studied, and I’m jazzed about it.
When I moved to Edmonton, I figured I had an answer as to what the ending would be. That’s when my controlling tendencies come to the forefront - when I’m pretty sure I know better then what God has in store for me (which is my entire life). But I figured this would just be a season about work. Maybe there’d be some growth, there’d probably be other learnings, but I figured at the end of the day, what I was putting into practice at work was going to be at the forefront of the story at my time in Edmonton.
But for the last month and a half, this has been my constant prayer as I drive through pink-streaked skies, snowy landscapes, and down 99 Street from the South Side: “Lord, thank you for leading me to the places I would have never gone to if I was in control. Thank you for the gifts you have placed in my life that I didn’t know I needed or wanted until now. Thank you for surprising me with lessons that show me you have a different ending in store.”
One year ago - heck, six months ago - I knew exactly what I needed & wanted out of life, & I knew exactly how to get there. It was a flawless plan - internship adventure out west to cross living out west off the list of things I always talked about but never did, & then back to school to get a certificate in fundraising because I doubted I could get a cool fundraising job right out of school. I wanted to be back in Ontario, because I love its beaches & Jarvis sunsets & the feeling you get in your chest when Toronto sports teams are winning games & downtown Hamilton. I wanted to be single, because boys were confusing & I didn’t want to be distracted out west. I wanted Jesus in increments, only in the spaces where I’d checked off.
& six months later, I’m sitting on a chair in Edmonton, forever thankful Jesus didn’t listen to my control freakiness. I’m forever thankful He breezed past me saying, “Mmmmm pretty sure I don’t need this in my life” & Jesus saying, “Hannah, you do.”
I think about that as I sit in a young adults community, giggling a little too loudly & forever getting killed off first in Werewolf. I think about this feeling of thanksgiving over waffles & whipped cream, over laughter & youth group games & the ever flattering nickname of “Old Hannah”. I give thanks every time my co-workers sing their thoughts, or chant, “DONUT DAY. DONUT DAY.” I’m thankful for every text message from a friend back home, every piece of home that gets inserted in my day, every low-quality FaceTime chat with my family, every phone call with a cute boy. My breath catches when giving thanks as I drive down Grierson Hill, looking at the kind of sunset that makes all of Edmonton look completely golden. Thanksgiving overflows in church as we sing & read the Bible & eat soup & fellowship together.
So now, this little life of mine includes blessings I never knew I needed; gifts I never knew I wanted. This chapter of life is far better than anything I could have ever written, & I’m so thankful for God’s delight in surprising me. For His patient & constant & consistent removal of my control on my life, as He leads a sometimes reluctant me into the places I wouldn’t be brave enough to go into.
I don’t know adequately how to sum up how to give thanks for this season, but I know this: I’m so thankful for Christ’s leading to all these moments I was so sure I didn’t need.