I’ll Save You the Gorey Details

The important thing is that I have finished two weeks of traveling and essay assignments, capped off by a glorious trip to the English countryside. Needless to say, those posts will be forthcoming.

Last Thursday I finished my final essay assignment and rolled into the LSE 4th Floor Dining Hall for a General Course Thanksgiving. American football streaming in the background, American accents catching up and telling stories. It made me nostalgic for the times I watched games with friends and family. We stuffed ourselves silly à la Thanksgiving tradition and fought over bottles of red wine. My friends sitting beside me invoked the wrath of a protective red-wine drinker at the next table by finishing off what was apparently her bottle. To their defense, she did not seem to be interested in the bottle of red wine at the time…

Giving thanks. I’ve been wondering why we as human beings have this thankful feeling. Every time we feel thankful, it’s a nod to the concept that everything is not in our control. That something or someone gave us that which gives us great comfort and joy. We’re thankful when we might not have expected or planned for something, but we’re so glad to have it. I’m thankful to have a sister from Berkeley studying in Manchester and a cousin studying in London to hang out with and to travel with. I did not think about the need for traveling companions in Europe (it’s dangerous to travel alone!), so I am doubly thankful they are here at the same time and wanting to travel with me.

We’re also thankful when things meet or exceed our hopes, dreams, plans, and expectations. I hoped before that I would be horseback riding with other LSE students during my year abroad here. I’m thankful that I am not only riding horses with LSE students but also that I’m learning how to play polo! I’m thankful I have the opportunity and resources to do so.

But either way–whether we designed (or thought we designed)–our life to turn out a certain way or not, we can feel thankful.

The other day, I read an interesting verse I didn’t understand but suddenly remembered now: “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me” (Psalm 50:23). I still don’t know what it’s supposed to mean if it’s supposed to mean something else. But it brings to light the fact that we are not in control of every aspect of our life. As a friend reminded me just today (here’s a shout-out to you, since you actually read my blog), we must remember that gifts are given by a giver. When we sacrifice some time and attention to stop being obsessed with increasing our capability of control and give thanks, we glorify God. I love my parents and I am immensely thankful for the way they loved me through my troubled times. But I did not decide who my parents were or where I was born. I can take ownership and responsibility of myself and my actions. I can take the initiative to influence factors to my favor. But I am not in control of who stumbles in and out of my life. Of the world going on without me. Of who decides what to do at what time. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

I am thankful nonetheless. I am stuffed not only with food but with the fulfillment of knowing not only in my mind but in my heart that I have been given much, that the giver loves me, that I am in love with the giver, and I am excited to steward and share the gifts given to me.

Love,
JJS

P.S. I love you Mom & Dad. Thanks for loving God and showing me what it means to have a love that’s greater than pride–to be transformed by Him who’s stronger than bitterness and stubbornness. During the times I was drowning in self-directed vitriol, you helped steer me towards the light and not further into darkness. I will be forever grateful.

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