I think I’m becoming one of those people who likes to take their holidays one at a time.
Maybe it’s this season of life that I’m in, but I find anger gently welling up almost every time someone talks about Thanksgiving like it’s a day to be pushed to the side, brushed it under the rug. I really like Thanksgiving. I really like Christmas too, but I just can’t stand the idea that Thanksgiving is just a bump in the road on the way to the extravaganza of the year that is Christmas.
No, I don’t want to decorate for Christmas before we eat our Thanksgiving feast. No, I don’t want to receive my Christmas presents before I can even take the time to be thankful for what I already have (and it’s not like I truly need anything for Christmas anyways).
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I honestly don’t remember when we as a culture decided Christmas trumps Thanksgiving even on the actual holiday.
Please don’t hate me if my Thanksgiving conviction offends you (I will admit I’ve been listening to Christmas music for the last few days–it’s just so catchy!) because this is what I’m really trying to say:
I want to start enjoying my life one bite at a time. One day, one holiday, one moment at a time.
Lately, I find that I’m really getting tired of always trying to be one step ahead. See, I’m a planner. I always have a to-do list, a future goals list, an everything-and-anything-you-can-think-of list actually. I love lists. But I’m starting to realize that my lists are becoming a crutch.
My lists hold all the hope.
Because if I can accomplish x,y, and z today; if I can accomplish x, y and z in the coming year, then, maybe then, I might have it all together. Then my life might feel more in control.
I’m realizing that trying to stay three steps ahead at all times is only leaving me tired, disappointed, and absent from what is going on in the moment. In my dreaming of the future, I’m missing out on the present.
And the other thing is, when I’m waiting for the future to finally make me content and fulfilled, I’m forgetting to be thankful today. I’m constantly saying “Thanks Jesus for today, but what I really will be thankful for is when you give me all my hopes and expectations next year.”
And I don’t think that it’s working.
I think my waiting on the future is robbing all my joy in the present. And this is where it stops.
I’m ready to be thankful.
And there’s more: I don’t want to just be thankful on Thanksgiving. Even more so, I don’t want other people to believe that I’m only thankful on Thanksgiving. I want a heart that pours out thanks and praise on Jesus and others every day of my life. I never want to leave someone questioning whether or not I appreciate and love them, that I’m thankful for their friendship, encouragement, support, etc. I want to wake up to each day ready to leave bits of thanks-giving at each stop along the way. I want a heart bursting with thankfulness and encouragement that would become the culture of my life.
And that requires a little more dying to myself so that my gaze can be set on Jesus.
Because when it’s all about me, I’m not thankful, I’m only scraping for more. More satisfaction, more praise, more attention, just more. And just like the stomachache we often experience after we have gorged ourselves on turkey and potatoes (plus all the other Thanksgiving sides and goodies) we realize that more is not always good. More can leave us feeling sick and tired and just plain gross. And in this season of life I don’t want more. I just want Jesus. Don’t get me wrong in this moment, I’m not very successful at just wanting Jesus because I’m human and fleshy and out of control ninety percent of the time, but I think there is something to be said that even when I take my gaze off Jesus and put it back on myself, somehow He always draws be back so gently, brushes me off and, in his kindness, reminds me of how foolish it was to ever think that this life was actually about me.
So let’s make a pact. You and me here while you’re sipping your coffee or lying on your bed reading these words on a screen, let’s fight to be thankful. Not only on this fabulous day of thanks, but every day. Let’s make a point to put down our phones, close our laptops, get our focus off ourselves, and actually look those we love in the eyes and tell them that we’re thankful. Tell them what we love about the way they love us, call out the good things and the potential that we see inside of them. Let’s not ever leave a place again without telling someone that we’re grateful for them, for what they’ve done, or even just for being alive. Let’s train our hearts to be overflowing with thankfulness. Let’s look to Jesus and thank him even more quickly and frequently than we thank those around us. Let’s take quiet moments to reflect on His goodness and what he has done in our lives this week, this semester, this year.
Because I think if I can learn to be thankful in this moment here, I can stop clinging so desperately to the hope that I will find satisfaction in the future. If I can be thankful for this life, this body, these gifts that I have today, maybe I will stop wishing my life away in the hopes that I will be made whole and perfect while I’m here on this earth. The fact is, this world is messy and I’m never going to be truly content until I make it home to Jesus. And to me, even though eternity with Him is the deepest longing of my heart, it would be such a shame to get to Heaven only to realize I never appreciated anything Jesus gave me while living here on earth.
Look around people (myself included)! This place is beautiful! Jesus is alive! He’s redeeming us moment by moment, day by day, from glory to glory! Let’s be thankful. Let’s be alert and always ready to give thanks for what He’s doing today. Because when we do that, we’re going to find that joy and contentment isn’t so far gone; it’s not found in the plans of my future, but it’s hiding in the everyday moments of the present, just waiting for us to turn around and be thankful.
My prayer in this holiday season for you and for myself is that our eyes would be opened, our hearts would be quick to become aware of what Jesus is doing in this moment, in this day. And that we would just be grateful. That the overflow of our hearts would be a resounding song of thanksgiving, rising from our souls into the throne room of Jesus.
He deserves every ounce of praise and I want to spend my life singing that song of thanksgiving to my Daddy.
Won’t you join me?
Be blessed today and always sweet friends. Happy Thanksgiving.