It’s here. That day filled with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie. And football. And family. And thanksgiving.
It’s apparent when I take stock of my life that I have much to be thankful for. And Thanksgiving is a perfect time to count those blessings. That’s totally the purpose of the holiday, even if we sometimes tend to focus more on the spread and couch time.
But what happens when we just don’t feel it? What happens when being thankful is the furthest thing from our hearts?
When I was in high school (which more time has passed than I want to believe), I uttered many peevish remarks. Possibly I have the excuse that the majority of teenagers are sullen and moody from time to time, but one statement I made continues to stick with me.
Even as I sat around a table of friends, these words flowed purposefully from my mouth: “What do I even have to be thankful for?”
Oh dear girl, you have ever so much to be thankful for!
But, in that particular time and place, I let specific circumstances overwhelm my gratitude.
And that, again, isn’t unusual. Thanksgiving isn’t something that comes naturally. As my pastor pointed out Sunday, saying please and thank you isn’t something a child does without parental guidance. A baby will say mama, dada and no all on his own. But a child learning to say thank you takes diligent teaching on the part of the parent.
Gratitude is learned.
And when we let circumstance determine our attitude, it’s natural for us to become increasingly pessimistic. And pretty soon, we have no room for thanksgiving.
Now, I don’t know exactly when circumstance became less and less important to me, but I do know why. Not only did I grow up, but I have also grown forward. Through the grace of God, he began to chip away at my childish nature.
And it was painful.
I was brought out of unhealthy high school relationships to Tabor College where I was instructed in the Word from loving professors and a pastor I adore. And through the brokenness, I grew.
I married my best friend and we have three beautiful children, but not without trial. Our oldest was born with a blood disease, warranting 18 months of tests, culminating in surgery. And through the fear, I grew.
Our family moved to the country and I had a difficult time adjusting. And through the loneliness, I grew.
When trying for a third child, we experienced not one, but two, lost pregnancies. And through the sadness and disappointment, I grew.
My husband and I chose to downsize and move our family back into the city limits. And through the conviction, I grew.
The saying is true…there definitely is beauty in the ashes.
Now, I didn’t manage to avoid complaining. I didn’t manage to avoid criticizing. And at times, I barely managed to avoid a nervous breakdown.
But I could never fathom again being so ungrateful.
Yes, I have much to be thankful for.