Prayer of Thanksgiving

When I was younger, so much younger than today, I planned never to marry, but if I did, I promised myself that I’d never have children. Never, ever, ever. I wanted my freedom—freedom from responsibility of any kind. I’d wipe no runny noses, change no diapers, and worry about no one but me. I’d be my own woman, sufficient unto myself. There’d be no man obstructing my life’s plans or children tugging at my skirts. How young I was. How innocent and selfish.

As I survey my Thanksgiving table in this Year of our Lord 2020, I thank you, Lord, for my husband, my sons, my grandsons, and the ladies they’ve brought to the family, a family that loves unconditionally. Never am I forced to walk life’s paths alone, even though I once thought I wanted to. For providing me with what I needed, not what I wanted, I thank you.

In my youth I rushed away from my small hometown where ancient oaks lined the streets and people knew not only my name, but my parents’ and grandparents’ names as well. Those people watched for 18 years as I grew from a baby in the stroller that Daddy pushed around town every afternoon into a fiercely independent young lady. I could hardly wait to leave those peaceful, quiet streets for the big city lights and anonymity. At full speed I ran, seeking my escape, hungry for the unknown.

And yet today, I thank you, Lord, for this small community that I call home, nestled here in the pines on these flatlands in South Georgia. I roamed far and followed a wildly meandering path to get back to my roots. My friends live here, too, down the road and across town—everyone as near as a phone call or a Facebook message or a text. Every street leads to a friendly face, a kind word, and when I need it, a helping hand or three. Those hands came in profusion back during the summer when COVID came calling.

All those years ago, Lord, when I so idealized the nursing profession and longed for the white cap and sharp white uniforms, you knew better. Ever so gently you steered me toward teaching, a career which I loved and through which I made a difference. I left school every day tired and often frustrated, but never once in 34 years did I leave bored with my job. Oh, no. I left determined to go home and find a solution to my frustration, a different way to reach that unreachable student. A good night’s sleep would provide the rest I needed to start over tomorrow. Thank You for wisdom and guidance when I strayed.

Thank You, Lord, for putting good people in my life to show me the way. In my youthful ignorance, I saw people as basically selfish, caring not one iota for others. However, as I lived my life day by day, I encountered so many selfless, fine people who proclaimed their faith with their actions, not their words. Many such people live their lives as a shining example for the rest of us. They work at humble jobs yet do them to the best of their abilities and never complain. Thank you, Lord, for blessing my life so generously with good people.

For the heavily laden table before us, I am grateful. And for our health and strength, I thank you. Life and experience have educated me like no book or class ever could. I’ve come a long way since my girlhood, and You’ve walked with me step by step, yourself a Teacher, unique in the universe. You taught me the truths I needed. The most important lesson in this life is that nothing is more important than loving and being loved. For the people who love me and that I love so dearly, I thank You.

Father, today on this national day of Thanksgiving, I ask only that you accept this prayer of gratitude from Your child.

And to each of my readers, I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings with those you love.

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