Thanks. What does it really mean to me this year? Walking in the Christmas Market in Ansbach, Germany, I reflected on my day. My gratitude became ever more evident. One of my friends invited me over to Thanksgiving dinner today with his family. This would seem like a rather enjoyable event, which it was, but leading up to it did not come without a little trepidation. The last time I saw this couple was in 2012 during one of the lowest points of my life.
Wrapped up in an unhealthy relationship, I began a slow fade from my walk with the Lord, drifting ever so far away from my destiny and who I really was as a believer and a man of God. The drain of that relationship affected me physically, spiritually, and emotionally. As I circled the drain, I reached a point where I had a choice to make: Stay in the valley and die, or climb my way out and live. Even so, that dark season led me to appreciate who I would soon be with forever that much more.
Two days away from celebrating my one-year anniversary with my best friend, it’s hard to believe I ever lived a life without her. It’s hard to believe I was given this precious gift to nurture, lead, and love. It’s hard to believe that God blessed me with someone so perfectly complementary to me. It’s hard to believe that she’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last when I sleep. It’s hard to believe God’s grace was so sufficient for me, He would hold her in the palm of his hand for years while I stubbornly, impatiently went down my own path doing everything I could to try things my own way. It’s hard to believe that it took me two failed marriages to finally stop trying to do it my way and follow His way. It’s hard to believe I don’t regret any part of it because it ultimately led me to one of my reasons for being thankful this year. It’s hard to believe when I finished clawing, scratching, striving, and climbing my way out of that valley over two years ago, at the top of that mountain would be my teammate, my best friend, my partner, my bride. It’s hard to believe that one year after we committed our lives to each other before our God and our families, we would be six weeks away from welcoming our first child, Emma Grace, into our family, our world. It’s hard to believe I’m writing this entry almost one month into my fourth deployment. It’s hard to believe despite that, we are overjoyed because we know we are precisely where God wants us to be. It’s hard to believe this woman would simultaneously stand by me, support me, love me, encourage me, push me, lovingly admonish me, and relentlessly pursue me. It’s hard to believe she is carrying Emma while working a full time job, loving me while I’m deployed, and still seemingly-effortlessly balancing supporting the families of those left behind. It’s hard to believe.
But isn’t that just how great God’s grace is? He gives us so much more than we can even ask or think. He blows our minds and exceeds our expectations if we just get out of the way and let Him. Isn’t it amazing how His love was so great that he gave Paul an epic definition in 1 Corinthians 13 to reflect on and see if we are indeed truly loving someone the way God intended?
I’m thankful for a lot of things this year. This is just one time I’ve appreciated stepping out of the way to see God’s grace run me down and overflow my cup with blessings far greater than I ever imagined. It’s hard to believe.
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