Whether we are referring to the Thanksgiving holiday or the attitude of thanksgiving, selflessness is found right in the name. In this increasingly self-centered world, it is a breath of fresh air to intentionally focus on being grateful and to give thanks to God for His countless blessings.
Thanksgiving is uncomplicated when life is rolling along just how we pictured it. For example, when our Thanksgiving table is set with matching linens, our turkey is roasted to a perfect golden-brown, and our family is seated around a table with smiles on their faces as conversation abounds about faith, family, friends, and food, giving thanks is easily in the forefront of our minds.
But what about when our personal lives are right smack-dab in the midst of a mess? Maybe that is when we make the life-changing (yes, I said life-changing) decision that we are going to make sure that the attitude of thanksgiving will take place right smack-dab in the midst of that mess?
Making a conscious effort to stop in the shambles and halt in the havoc and say, “Thank you,” to our faithful God who refuses to forsake us is sometimes a difficult thing to do. But it is a valuable thing to do. It refocuses our eyes, minds, and hearts on the fact that the size of our mess is minuscule compared to the size of our God. It is often the necessary step to keep us moving in a forward motion into the peace that God offers, instead of backwards into a place of anger or despair.
When we are in the midst of any type of mess; financial emergencies, a cancer diagnosis, family feuds, or broken relationships, if we are consumed by thoughts of, “Why me, why now, why aren’t You there, God?” we will remain at a standstill or even take a step back in our faith life. Thanking God for blessings and the fact that He is going to help us through it, evidenced by the fact that He has been faithful since day one, is a much better mode for our mind to operate in. It strengthens our faith, and it brings honor to God!
Recently, we were heading to an open spot on the arena bleachers to watch our oldest son’s basketball game. Our second son was walking behind me. I was looking up at the action on the floor and unfortunately was not aware of an object on the floor in my path. Boom. Suddenly, I was on the floor and many thoughts rushed through my mind, including “How embarrassing, how embarrassing, and yes, how embarrassing.” My middle name is not Grace, and I have had some missteps in my life; more than I would like to admit. But somehow, this one made me want to find a magic door that would lead me back in time to a few seconds before when I would have plainly seen any objects in my path and avoided an embarrassing situation.
When I fell, there was an immediate helping hand, and it was pretty neat that it was from someone I gave birth to twenty-one years ago. He did not hesitate in bending down, making sure I was okay, and offering to help me up. A few minutes later, after getting seated and attempting to casually give the impression that falling in front of a gymnasium of on-lookers is as natural as bending down to tie my shoes, and pretending that my knees were not feeling a fair amount of pain, I tapped my son on the shoulder. I said, “Brady, thank you for helping me up right away instead of passing right by me and pretending you didn’t know me. I really appreciate that.” And I did. I really did appreciate that. I thanked him, and I thanked God for a reminder that my husband (who was also concerned but was in front of me and did not realize what happened until I was back up on my feet) and I are blessed with three sons, a daughter, and a daughter-in-law who are genuinely kind-hearted in a world where kindness is underrated.
I am not going to pretend that tripping and falling in public is an example of a personal crisis, but I am sharing it as an example of when there was a choice to be made. Dwell on the negatives and suffer in a standstill or even backwards direction, or else find something to thank God for in the midst of a mess and move forward. Keep praying about the mess, because we have a God who hears us and cares about our circumstances more than we even realize. But find something to thank Him for as well. Thanksgiving launches our momentum in the midst of a mess. The decision is ours.