As Thanksgiving season approaches, are you feeling thankful? Or, like so many of us, are you consumed with how much you must do? Are you focused instead on meeting your perceived expectations—so much so that” thankfulness” is something you don’t have time to “do”?
We are supposed to be thankful always and in every situation, not just as we celebrate this national holiday (Ephesians 5;20, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalm 107:1). However, it is good to have a holiday that for most people means a day off and time spent with family and friends. I realize some people do not have that luxury, but as Christians, hopefully we can look at our lives and find things to be thankful for even if we are forced to spend the day alone, working, in the hospital, or in any other unavoidable activity. There are some people who are facing daunting circumstances such as financial woes, family discord or health issues and they will struggle to find things to be thankful for. However, thankfulness is a choice and one I pray we all can make as we look at our lives.
As I have gotten older, I have been guilty of putting “thankfulness” at the bottom of my “to do” list during this time of year. It became, instead, a struggle for perfection that I placed on myself to make everyone’s Thanksgiving “perfect” only to fail wretchedly by making us all miserable. I took sole responsibility for everything, and unfortunately, I neglected to include “thankfulness” in the process.
I willingly took on the privilege of “hosting” Thanksgiving dinner at my house as my children and parents got older. My desire was for my children to have the same wonderful memories of spending time with family and friends that I remember from my childhood. It didn’t take me long to realize that I enjoyed those holidays so much because I was the age I had absolutely no responsibility when it came to meal preparation, guest accommodations, and preventing personality conflicts. I soon felt myself overwhelmed. Getting the holiday over with became my Thanksgiving focus. I was not enjoying the privilege of having family and friends close by, and I certainly did not have a thankful heart.
Fortunately, the Lord spoke to me in His kind and gentle way through not so subtle hints from my family. They seldom saw me on the holiday because I was always in the kitchen. And when interaction did occur, it was usually with me barking orders, or telling them how unappreciated I felt and how ungrateful they were! Once they pointed it out, I realized how right they were. I had chosen to host this holiday. Why then was, I working so hard that I didn’t enjoy it and neither did anyone else?
It has taken prayer and effort on my part to change my attitude—and I’m still working on it. I still want everything “just so.” I have to make the effort to not insist that everything be done “my way.” I have to let go and allow others to participate in whatever way they desire. After all, this is a chance for us all to be together and all to be thankful for the blessings in our lives.
To help myself stay focused, I took time to make a “reminder” notice on just what this holiday is all about and why I have made the decision to celebrate it. I posted it in my kitchen so there will be no excuse for not remembering to be thankful.
- I will be thankful for being chosen as a member of God’s Kingdom family and for the sacrifice He made to make this possible.
- I will enjoy the time spent in the presence of ALL family and friends, thankful that they are an interactive part of my life.
- I will not dwell on the perfectionist expectations that I have allowed Satan and his minions to burden me with.
- I will not dwell on:
- My housekeeping skills or lack thereof
- Meal preparation (I will simplify the menu, ask for assistance and not spend all my time in the kitchen)
- Personality cohesiveness (I will not take responsibility for personality conflicts, seating arrangements, political viewpoints, braggarts, and self-centeredness)
- I will take time to “stop and smell the roses”, remembering all the people, memories, and things I am thankful for in my life.
20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1
I pray that your Thanksgiving will be a time filled with love and laughter and prayerful thankfulness for all God has given you. I beg you to open your heart and focus.
I choose to be thankful today for all the blessings you have given me: spiritual, physical and emotional. I pray that others will make this choice as well. I realize this may be a struggle for some people who are fighting health issues, financial woes and relationship issues; however, I pray for these individuals who, if they cannot find anything else to be thankful for, can at least be thankful for the fact that you are their Heavenly Father. I pray that you might use me to bring thankfulness to others who are in need and I thank you for allowing me to serve in your Kingdom.