I can’t help myself. I’m one of those people. As soon as the Halloween candy runs low and the last princess, pirate or Power Ranger has called it a night, I want to rip down the cobwebs, throw up the Christmas tree and start decking every hall in sight. Sorry, Pilgrims. How rude.
This year, though, I’m determined to do it right. Restraining my obsession with all things merry and allowing Thanksgiving its rightful place, I’ve decided to snub the stockings, leave the bulbs in their boxes, and keep my attitude squarely on gratitude (at least until the turkey’s done). Giving some thought to giving thanks has led me to believe there are really only two ways to be thankful… my way or the Higher way.
Being thankful my way:
- Be nice and sweet and grateful when things are great.
- Get grumpy and sour and ungrateful when things are not.
Being thankful the Higher Way:
- See the small picture. To live a thankful life, I have to regard the little things as enormous. Sometimes God rearranges my circumstances just to show me how big small blessings really are. Three days of the stomach flu make a few Saltines and a sip of ginger ale taste like a meal made for majesty. Getting stuck in a freezing downpour turns a steamy shower at home into a day at the spa. A flat tire on the freeway changes a couple of kind words from a stranger into the true voice of an angel. He fills my life with good things! Psalm 103:5
- Just say it. Not I’m sorry. Not You’re right. To live thankfully, we have to utter the two hardest words in the English language, Thank You. When we don’t understand, when we can’t see any possible good coming from a situation, a problem or a person- try giving thanks. Gratitude when it doesn’t make sense, that slight shift toward praise without seeing a purpose, is the greatest expression of trust we can give to God. And He gives back; choosing to trust God in the middle of a confusing circumstance is the single most effective way to unleash His power in our lives. And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them… Mark 6:5
- Look back to move forward. The Red Sea, water from a rock, all of that manna… and still they questioned God. The Israelites had a terrible memory, didn’t they? Almost as bad as mine. How quickly we forget the miracles God has done, the prayers He’s answered, the situations He’s changed, the problems He’s solved. Living thankfully means finding a way (keeping a journal, writing a friend, keeping a list…) to recall His intervention in our lives yesterday so that we can expect it tomorrow. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:2
- Play the What If Game. God’s ways are beyond tracing out… but sometimes it’s fun to try. I can stay thankful in a bad situation if I force myself to think of a reason why it’s just better this way. What if… I hit all those red lights to keep me from an accident, a drunk driver or that annoying person I was hoping to avoid. What if… my kid didn’t make the all-star team because the Lord was keeping her from a painful injury or a challenging group of peers. What if… my husband didn’t get that promotion because his new boss, higher demands or changed schedule would have made our lives miserable. Oh the depth of the wisdom of God… His ways past finding out. Romans 11:33
To be honest, the candy canes and Christmas movies are still calling my name. But this year I’ve resolved to hold Thanksgiving in my heart (even when I’m holding sugar cookies in my hand).