This past weekend we tried hard, didn’t we? We looked around us and we found things to be thankful for within easy reach, like shelter over our heads, food in our bellies and family in our hearts.
Today #thankful will stop trending on Twitter and life will return to normal. Today we might even retain the happy hearts we had on the weekend, but most likely with a proviso. As thankful as I am, I would prefer things a different way. If I’m honest.
On Saturday, a nasty head cold kept me from enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws. Major disappointment. My mother- and sister-in-law are phenomenal hosts and besides the mouth-watering dishes I know they’d be serving, I would also miss their company. We hardly ever get to be all of us together with turkey, stuffing, and pudding and marshmallow salad in the middle. I wanted to go, but just could not. I wanted to whine about it, but it was Thanksgiving. Instead, I thanked God for my couch, my Snuggie, and Netflix.
When John-Mark got home, he reported that our nephew, Edmund, a precocious 4-year-old prayed a long and lovely prayer of thanks before they ate. Among other things, he thanked God for floors, doors and Diego Lego. After agreeing with J-M that it was super-cute, I wondered what makes a 4-year-old understand thankfulness? Or does he? All the things he mentioned were good, positive things, so he must have some grasp of it.
I asked my daughters (no transcribed interview this time, sorry) about a time they remember being very, very thankful for something, as in they felt thankful down to the very marrow of their soul. After I explained what marrow is and how it might apply to the metaphysical with the words, “Never mind,” both responded without hesitation. It was while we lived in Africa and we had very few possessions or comforts. Mallory said she felt very, very thankful when we received mail. Sophia said it was when our friends from the British Embassy would invite us over to their air-conditioned home. I would have to say I too have felt the most thankful when I haved gone without. I don’t know if I even knew thankfulness until I was deprived. For months after we moved home from Ghana, I was thanking the Lord for everything, for both significant and miniscule things: floors and doors, and room temperature, right along with our jobs, freedom to worship, family… All of it put on the same level of deep gratitude.
Must we experience deprivation to be truly grateful? Doesn’t the whole story of God’s plan for his kingdom speak into that? Without him, life is empty; with him, it is abundant. To know life without God, and then to find him! We become truly grateful for what Jesus did on the cross, allowing us to enter it. We know the difference between being inside and outside the kingdom of God. Keeping this close to our heart makes us grateful.
And what does it take for us to maintain a thankful heart, instead of feeling like we just pushed the pause button on complaints for a weekend?
Sophia piped up that she thinks it takes reminders, and plenty of them. But what do those reminders look like? Our No Whining sign, for example, is of no help!
Effective reminders may be different for each of us, but I have an idea that it is our worship that takes us there. How do we worship God and how often?
Thanksgiving can be a time of worship that returns us to a holy perspective of thankfulness and gratitude. It shouldn’t be the only reminder, but it is an excellent one.
Today, I am #stillthankful for Advil Cold & Flu.