I love Thanksgiving for more sentimental reasons than you possibly care about. That’s why I’ve decided not to bore you with my ‘Top Ten Favorite Things about Thanksgiving’ list this year. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to talk about Thanksgiving. I am. Well, sort of. Kind of. Actually, I’m going to talk about Thanks Giving.
We have allowed Thanksgiving – which is a holiday filled with all kinds of beloved traditions – to replace Thanks Giving – which is a way of life grounded in faith, reflection and gratitude. Be absolutely clear. I’m not advocating getting rid of Thanksgiving. That would be a travesty! Rather, I’m advocating that we get a whole lot more serious about embracing thanks giving as a way of living.
I understand that even suggesting this is tantamount to opening a giant can of worms. After all, how can we give thanks with integrity when someone we love is suffering, our lives are falling apart or it seems there is conflict everywhere we turn? It’s hard. Really hard. Maybe even impossible. But doing so is essential in our walk as Jesus’ followers. And it’s very doable. Absolutely doable. All it takes is a willingness and – as the old saying goes – practice, practice, practice.
Start by embracing an essential understanding. Thanks Giving is not primarily something you do when you feel good about things. It is something you intentionally do all the time regardless of what’s going on.
Then do the obvious. Find things for which to be thankful. While this can be hard when life is falling apart, I have discovered through a great deal of trial and error that you can always find something for which to be thankful. It’s not enough, however, just to find things. You also have to voice your thanks. And when you do, you’ll discover more and more things you’re thankful for, articulate your thanks more clearly than you imagined possible, and discover that your thanks is becoming deeper and more genuine.
Next, make the most natural shift in the world by viewing your life primarily through the eyes of your heart. This enables you to discern exactly how God is using everything that happens in life – be it good, bad or in-between – to shape you into the person God has created you to become. Of course, there is only one possible outcome when you start seeing things in a brand new way. You are joyfully compelled to give all thanks, honor, praise and glory to God. And so you do. Not just silently. But so someone else hears it, too.
That’s when it hits you like a ton of bricks. Thanks Giving changes your attitude. Which changes how you deal with people. Which changes you. Which changes how you handle life – especially the difficult parts. And that’s why Thanks Giving is a way of living that needs to be at the very heart of all your living.