A couple of years ago I wrote this piece on Abounding in Thanksgiving and I cannot help but nestle back into it again. In case you missed it the first go-round. Check it out.
Yes, I’d like to lodge some complaints around here. I haven’t felt well. Things haven’t gone my way. Someone pulled out in front of me in traffic. My blender exploded while I was trying to make a smoothie. I haven’t felt like working out all week. I don’t really feel like praying. In short, what are YOU going to do about it? Over the last few days I have that way mentally. I could blame that funk of life on any number of things. But I just kept coming back to this gross attitude of complaining. I made myself go to bed incredibly early one evening on the remote possibility that I could sleep it off. Then I realized what it boiled down to was a change of heart and transformation of mind. I hadn’t really been connecting transforming head and heart the last few days and had merely been focusing on the wrong things. I had let whispers infiltrate and flood me, washing away traces of His influence and filling Presence. Steadfastness is not something I could claim these last few days and so I lodged all kinds of complaints to anyone that would hear them. But alas, I should have just stopped and spoken with the One whom I had the most to say to, to spend time with and just let the burdens fall away. I should have waged the war against complaining and been grateful instead for what I was feeling, what I did have, and where I was sitting. I have the free will to choose gratitude in my attitude, rather than being a miserable grouch who complains. Instead of voicing such complaints, I have to fully turn and appreciate all that He has given and continues to give in the midst of my perceived loss. I have so much yet choose to focus on the one thing I don’t, or the tone of someone’s voice when talking with me. Instead of dwelling on the complaints, may I dwell on the thanks.
This week, and perhaps even this month, often instill in us Americans the need and notion of giving thanks. You become a bit more patient or see the goodness that surrounds you. at least I hope you do…
I believe there’s a stigma that is slowly starting to creep in though that this is the only time we can be thankful, or gracious. Whether that be through giving of time, of encouragement, or of money. I am not sure about you but it started to eat away at me a bit, to become a bit jaded to giving thanks.
Because I was seeing the ugliness of this time of year, and that it never really flowed into the remainder of the season, let alone the year. It became such a snowball effect, and I think that happens to alot of us. We want to be gracious and thankful, but we just don’t feel it.
Oh sure, I am thankful in the mornings for a new day, full of new mercies. But by the end of the day? I am grumpy and full of sass. I can point to all the ways someone else wasn’t gracious or kind which led me to my ‘tude. Then it hit me. I can only control me (and let’s be honest, that’s a full-time job for God too).
I simply have no management of others, how they respond, how they act or how they think. My choice, and it is mine, is to simply respond in grace and love. Remembering that those new mercies don’t just pour out in the morning, but all. day. long.
Yep, that’s right…all day.
You know what that means? That I get to give Him the thanks all day long too for them. For Who He is, His sovereignty, and His work. Not mine. Because as I desire the mind of Christ in me, that means I desire the attitude of Christ. When you look back through Scripture, you see He was giving thanks even when no one got it. When He was judged, beaten and betrayed? He still carried out His calling.
This time of year instills such an air of thanksgiving, but I believe it’s a reminder to us to continue that thanks continually as my friend Hanna points out in her post. I think it also means having the mind of Christ in it, which means cheerfulness in giving. Whether that is money, time, thanks or praise. We get to give thanks y’all. That’s pretty stellar to think about.
I keep coming back to this passage in Psalms right now, as it reminds me that no matter the hour of the day, it is good to give Him thanks, to praise Him. He never stops working out good in our lives if we are faithful in obedience. So why not be obedient in giving thanks?
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night,
On an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, with harmonious sound.
For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.
Psalm 92:1-4 (NKJV)
I hope you all have a fantastic day filled with giving thanks, eating food, and sharing time with those who fill your bucket! Today I just want to share this verse with you and may it go beyond today for you as it is for me.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your Name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2, ESV
Where has this year gone? It’s been an amazing, adventurous, challenging and rewarding year…what about you all? In less than a week we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving, which might be a top five holiday of mine, although I do love all holidays. Normally during November I do the 30 days of thankfulness. However coming off of the 31 Day Challenge in October I chose not to this year. I also wanted to recognize whether I was giving thanks daily for the blessings, and battles, in my life without the force of writing behind it.
Today though I wanted to pause and give thanks to some key areas in my life, and while this list doesn’t encompass it all (as my lists rarely do), I did want to give thanks for them specifically.
1. My Faith. I am thankful more than ever to have Christ in my life and to know Him personally. The strength, fullness, and love He pours out along with new mercies astounds me. Moment by moment I see Him working and at other times I have wondered if I lost my way with Him. Through it all my faith has been a firm foundation this year, in the toughest of times and the highest celebrations.
2. My Family. I know you kind of have to say your family in this or risk having a super
awkward holiday season, but I so very thankful this year especially for my family. We are not perfect (and we never will be) but we love each other most of the time. With the loss of my grandfather a year ago this month, we are still weathering hurt and grief. My parents lost the family dog earlier this month and it was a reminder that life happens, but it’s how we live it out and who we live it with that matters at the end of a hard day.
3. My Friends. Goodness me! I have amazing friends…ones that love and pray for you when you can barely speak the words yourself. Ones that will listen to ramble on and then tell you the blunt truth (you need those kind of people in your life, trust me). They will push you and leave you alone…knowing your need for space and your innate introvertedness. They’ll also text you freaking out about a spider outside their house after a long day, and make you laugh. They remind that you have family that isn’t related, and that can often be what you need the most at certain times.
4. My dream. This year I have been pushed to really focus on this dream of writing. I cannot quite put into words (how fitting) how grateful I am for this year of passion in writing that I have never had before. There has been a constant urgency this year to write like never before and put on paper (or screen) what I feel I can share with others in similar situations. There are so many I can point to for encouragement and validation this year but it all started with Jon Acuff and the Start Experiment team. So much has come from that, including community with people who get it, without having any of us expect it to be explained.
5. My students. Professionally this season has been difficult. I won’t deny that in the least. But I keep being reminded I do what I do because I am called to do it, not because it’s “easy” or “fun” or any of the other descriptors others choose to state about my professional. Yahoo! Finance released an article this last week stating that my job was the third most stressful in the nation. The description doesn’t quite get it because for the majority of higher education administrators, the ones who are in it for the calling of life, we do so much more. It’s called life with students. It’s journeying with them, listening, being a part of their development. Over and over, especially recently, students remind me of why I do the reports, the budgeting, and the policies. They show me why I go in early and stay late. Just yesterday one current student made me laugh so hard in a meeting I thought I would bust. I came home to a package from a former student of something she had made years ago and lost in the shuffle. It reminded me that when working with students you find some joy, while seeing the stress of life impact them just the same as it does us. It’s my job to guide them through…
I had an encounter the other day with someone who truly rattled me. This individual criticized and tore down me as well as my work. Work that I do out of calling and passion. It’s not work to me, but that day it really felt that way. It had come at the tail end of a day where I just couldn’t take one more thing. I had been poured out and there was nothing left in me. Absolutely nothing.
They didn’t know this. What they had to say to me, what they needed to criticize was of utmost importance. It was their priority that day. Thankfully a mentor was able to adjust my viewpoint on how I was processing the verbal checklist of my failings and allowed me to see a bigger problem. One that I am very often guilty of as well.
We are all critics. With the ease of social media and blogs, we have become the foremost authorities on the what is right, how it should be done, and how you are doing it all completely wrong. And it only takes one criticism, just one to make us doubt our worth, ourselves, and our work. I found myself doing it just last night as I watched my Red Sox. I was yelling at the umpire for what I believed was the wrong pitch call. Granted he did not hear me a thousand miles away, but instead of focusing on all the good calls he made, I chose that one that hung just at the bottom of the strike zone on a Cardinals batter.
I know I have beat this dead horse on speaking love, but today…just for the moments when you feel the need to cut someone down. To cut down their work, their worth, or their walk in life…choose not to.
Instead of sharing bitterness, share joy.
Instead of shouting cut-downs, shout praise.
Instead of a critical eye, have a thankful heart.
Embrace an attitude of gratitude today, instead of an attitude of criticism.