I Need a Thanksgiving Kick in the Shorts (Do you?)
May I confess something? I have not been very thankful lately. In fact, I've been so focused on getting stuff…
May I confess something?
I have not been very thankful lately.
In fact, I’ve been so focused on getting stuff done, mindful of various obstacles and setbacks before me, pushing and griping through self-pity and crankiness, there hasn’t been much chance for the seeds of gratitude to grow lately.
So I’m writing this post as sort of a kick in the shorts to myself, I guess. Not to shame myself for not being grateful, but to begin doing the work of gratitude. Because it feels so awesome when I get back on track.
Can you relate? Do you ever find yourself motoring though days, maybe weeks at a time, without really being thankful? You end up being generally unappreciative of those around you. You are not wowed by baskets of blessings. Life is grayer.
It’s not that we aren’t vaguely aware of God’s blessings all the while. We are. It’s somewhere in the back of our minds. But bringing the actual FEELING of gratitude to the frontal lobe, and then expressing it is so powerful! It’s life altering, really. And necessary to avoiding a pitiful, crusty heart.
I need Thanksgiving. The holiday and the activity of doing it. I welcome it like cool water on my parched soul every year. I see it as an invitation to drink deeply of gratitude.
Gratitude fixes just about everything for me. Sadness. Fatigue. Worry. Anger. Horrible circumstances. It doesn’t matter what cards you’re dealt, feeling gratitude is like laying down a royal flush – it trumps them all. Gratitude is how you can smile through the rain.
Gratitude makes the day go better – not because the dog didn’t vomit on the couch, but because I look at the puke differently.
Jesus met ten men one day, each of them ruined with dreaded leprosy. In his kindness he healed them all! It was like a resurrection for them. Each was obviously super relieved. But only one turned back to express thanks to Jesus. (Luke 17:15)
The Bible says “he saw that he was healed” and so came running back thanking and praising God in a loud voice, falling on his face in front of Jesus. Obviously they all realized they were healed. But this guy truly “SAW” it.
Isn’t that how we are? It’s not that we aren’t receiving the blessings. It’s just that we don’t really SEE them.
Gratitude isn’t about having enough good things happen to you that you can finally have a reason to give thanks. It’s about SEEING your “already life” differently, recognizing that every day, any day, our mouths should fall wide open, floored with how incredibly blessed we are. If that’s not how you feel right now, it’s because you’re eyes are partially shut. Or focused on the wrong thing.
Thanksgiving isn’t about what happens to you, it’s how you see what has happened. That’s why some with the most blessings remain thankless ingrates. And those who seem to have the least to be thankful for are content and filled.
It’s how you see things.
And that’s a choice.
Want some advice? Try this:
This Thanksgiving, look at your life and SEE what God has done. SEE what you have. SEE what goodness there is all around you.
Pause to see taken-for-granted gifts, cloaked in commonness: a warm bed if you have one, a favorite memory from childhood, the song of a bird, a friend’s presence or a parent’s prayers, a body, Twizzlers, Jesus.
Gratitude begins with SEEING.
But it doesn’t end there.
Gratitude unexpressed is like an idea of a gift never given. In the Bible there are something like 140 references to thanks. Virtually every one of them is not just a call for us to FEEL thankful or to merely SEE what we have to be thankful for, but to verbalize it. And to verbalize it to God. So much changes when you express your gratitude. In other words…
SEE something? SAY something.
The leper who saw he was healed came back praising God in a loud voice. No one had to tell him to do that.
See something? Say something.
When we give thanks we taste our joys twice. Once when they happen, when the blessing is received, and again when we give thanks as they are recalled and appreciated. Who doesn’t want to get a double bang out of life’s good stuff? We will eat some good food, but THANKS is what I will savor the most.
So try this: at Thanksgiving Dinner, before someone brings up kneeling football players, politics, or the latest scandal, take a few moments for everyone to think a bit and then explain aloud one thing (or 3, or 5 things) for which they are thankful. As we give each other the gift of space and time to SEE, FEEL and EXPRESS gratitude, we help fill each other up with grace and good things even before we take a bite of turkey.
And then please be sure to find a way to express it toward God. God is the giver of all good gifts. Thankfulness without an object is ultimately self-congratulations and defeats the whole purpose. There’s a Grand Canyon of difference between expressing gratitude and feeling lucky.
Which reminds me of an a song I love by Andrew Peterson where he says, “Don’t you want to thank Someone?” (For 8 awesome moments of reflection and worship, listen to it here.
Yes, we all do. And we are created by God to SEE his goodness, and to FEEL it deeply, and to SAY something to him about it.
This week if you gather around a table, I will drink deeply of gratitude and feast on the taste of grace. Care to join me?