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Thankful for just knowing

October 27, 2008

by Jen Bakken

It can be difficult at times to pull yourself up when it feels as though things are pushing you down. To remain positive and thankful can seem impossible at times.

Life can change like the leaves on a tree. One day, the leaves are green, and seemingly the next day they are brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow, and yet the next, they are falling to the ground.

One minute you see brilliant beautiful colors, and the next they are gone. Like life, it can stop you in your tracks and leave you wondering, “Where did that beauty go?”

Standing in front of a bare tree, after all of the colors have fallen, it can be hard to believe that one day the tree will be beautiful again.

It may never be exactly the same, but the beauty will return – we just know it.

Recently life stopped me right in my tracks. While running through my days, feeling rushed as usual and not even taking time to notice the beauty of the fall trees, I found out my dad has cancer.

It seemed as if all of those wonderfully colorful leaves I had barely noticed went straight to the ground in one big gust of wind.

And now that I did take notice of the oranges, reds, and yellows – they didn’t seem beautiful at all. Feeling unable to stop the worries and negative thoughts from taking over, it seemed as though the beauty would never return.

How do you have faith when you are doubting with every beat of your heart?

With my feelings of doom and utter sadness, I went to the Sunday service at Delano Methodist United Church. I was feeling alone, and it seemed all I had were questions that no one could answer.

While my children and I sat in church, I felt guilty for doubting, for worrying, for not believing beauty would return – for not just knowing it.

Convinced life would forever be colorless, I held back tears the entire time. The hymns didn’t offer any comfort and I didn’t sing along. Honestly, I was barely paying attention.

Next thing I knew, a microphone was being passed around the sanctuary. I was so stuck in my own self pity and doubt that it took me a few minutes to realize what was going on.

Person after person proclaimed what they were thankful for. It seemed as if everyone could see beauty but me – they all just knew it.

I thought to myself that when the microphone came my way, I would just pass it along without saying anything. But, before I could, my 11-year-old son had grabbed the microphone.

Instantly I worried what my not-so-shy son was going to say. What would he reveal in front of all these people? I felt embarrassed before he even spoke a word.

He held that microphone with obvious confidence and stood before the congregation.

“I would just like to thank God for my family, my parents, my brother, my sister and everyone else,” he said without a shake in his voice. “And for watching over my grandpa who has cancer – because I know He is.”

The tears flowed freely down my cheeks and speckled my shirt with spots. My daughter handed me a Kleenex and all I could do was walk out of the church.

The sobs escaping me were nearly uncontrollable, and my children’s faces carried worried expressions.

Since I was unable to utter a word, my son looked at me with his big blue eyes and said, “I’m so sorry mom, I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

This was an amazing moment, and it stopped me in my tracks again – not because of the colors of orange, red and yellow, but for the beauty that is seen through the eyes of a child.

Just like the leaves on a tree – life too can change so quickly. Here I was overcome with worry and doubt when my son was able to have faith that beauty would return – he just knew it.

I was able to explain that he didn’t make me sad, but rather he made me proud.

“Oh, sometimes we moms cry when we are sad, sometimes when we are happy. It’s hard to explain,” I tried to assure him.

Then while in the car, at the same time, we both noticed the most beautiful tree. The colors were so bright one almost needed to squint. We said, “wow” in unison.

As we admired the oranges, reds, and yellows, I didn’t find myself worrying about everything falling to the ground. Suddenly my doubts seemed to fade because my son helped me believe that beauty would return – finally. I just knew it.

And, I was able to write this column with the same confidence and faith my son had while standing in church knowing beauty will return because He is watching over my daddy – I just know He is.