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.


2 thoughts on “On Giving Thanks For the Life You Were Pretty Sure You Didn’t Want.”

  1. Hi Hannah, so good to read that you’re enjoying life in Edmonton. Things have been rough in my corner in Toronto, and with this post of yours I’m believing in God and God’s work vicariously through you. I hope that’s okay. Sending pieces of the 6ix and the hammer your way!

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