There are the usual things... my family, my friends, my kids' health and humor and manners. I'm thankful for our home and our jobs and our cars and our stuff. I'm thankful for pets and our garden and our abilities. I'm thankful for the Internet... for blogging and social media and email. I'm thankful for our church, for the kids I work with, for the great programs that my kids get to be involved in. I'm thankful for my health and mobility, that I can run and play with my kids and get around (relatively) pain free (most of the time). I'm thankful for our safety and basic obliviousness to how hard things can be in this world. Sometimes I feel guilty that we have it so easy. Sometimes I feel like I might not even understand what it truly means to be thankful.
I have mixed emotions about this time of year. Maybe it's guilt or cynicism. The e-card about how America spends Thanksgiving being thankful for what they have and Black Friday fighting others to get more stuff resonated with me. I laughed it off, but then it started to really irritate me. Now Thanksgiving isn't even sacred. Stores are starting sales on Thanksgiving Day! Really? What about family?
There was an e-card about that too. Although, I have no issue with people having to work on Thanksgiving. That's just life when you have a job, especially one that doesn't stand still when a holiday comes around. I have issue with the materialism of our culture overtaking and distorting all things bright and clean. Thanksgiving is no longer about giving thanks or sharing what we have with others, it's about getting stuffed and then going out to get more stuff.
Don't even get me started on Christmas. It's still a month away, and I've been seeing red and green since October.
And I think what irritates me the most, is I am just as liable to get sucked into it all. It's easy to want more stuff. Way easier to go looking for the buzz of "newness" than to look around and be thankful for what already is.
It's easy to be thankful for the good things. It's even easier to find reasons to want more. We always want more. It's just human nature. The shoes in my closet are a good example of my greed.
It's hard to be thankful for the bad things, the frustrating things, the things that make you want to scream and cry. Where is the good in an illness? In loss of something precious? In watching someone who is in pain? In knowing that more people go without than people who have enough?
I think I am just rambling here. And I don't feel like I am going to get my point across because I'm making vague blanket statements and oozing cynicism.
This year Jason chose to spend Thanksgiving week hunting in Idaho with his dad. I gave him my blessing to skip Thanksgiving, and now I regret it. I'm not thankful that he's gone, and I am finding myself constantly talking myself out of a bad attitude about it. I'm thankful that he is safe (as far as I know). I'm thankful that this hunting trip pretty much guarantees a year's worth of meat in the freezer. I'm thankful that he is getting to spend one on one time with his dad... they didn't always have that bond, and this is a good thing for them. I'm thankful that I have plenty of supportive family to help me out while he is gone (babysitting so I can run, traveling with us to my sister's, checking on our chickens and our dog when we were out of town). I'm thankful we have the funds to support his trip and pay for the license and tag. I secretly want to pout and say mean things about how I hate it and resent that he is gone. But it wouldn't do either of us any good, and I know it would make it harder on the kids. So I am forcing a grin, and I am finding pieces of this crummy week to be thankful for.
Even as I type this, I feel like such a baby... I think of situations that are so much worse than mine. Parents who are deployed for a year, parents who are gone forever, parents who were never there in the first place. How much harder is it to find thanks in those situations? Exponentially.
And that is why, I generally try to find something good in every situation all year long. I'm not always good at it. I am just as capable of getting caught up in hype and materialism as the next person. And I am just as capable of getting sucked into negativity and Eeyore-ishness.
I wrote the above part of this post a few days ago, and I just saved it as a draft, because I knew I was just ranting. But on Sunday there were multiple times that I felt I needed to try and tie this all together and get it out there. Sensical or non.
On Sunday morning, I went to Sunday School and was blessed so much. Someone I know mostly through acquaintances led the class. Instead of just talking about thankfulness, she went through the whole entire class (and our class is fairly large) and told us reasons why she was thankful for each one of us. Wow! She had prayed about it, and I could tell she really spent time on making sure she was saying not only things she meant but things God wanted us to hear. And she blessed all of us.
She told me I was 'of little words'. Which I am. I can rant on this space, but even then I try to be careful. In person, I am much, much more quiet and reserved. It was funny because everyone laughed. They know me, and they know it's true.
It also blessed me when she said I was wise beyond my years. Believe me, that wisdom did not come easily. But I am thankful now, even for my hugest of mistakes, because God is going to use them for good. In His timing, not mine. And I was so thankful Sunday morning that God used her to remind me of the reasons He is thankful for me, and why it is so important for us to share with others why we are thankful for them. And it doesn't have to be done only in November... it needs to be done all year round.
By the time Sunday was almost over, I had talked myself out of posting my rant... again. And then, we did our devotions. The kids are going through Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It is fantastic. We were a day or two behind, and as we caught up... God spoke to me again.
Psalm 118:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever!
We are supposed to give thanks to God at. all. times. Not only because we should, but because He promises us His joy. When we thank Him, in the good and in the bad, He allows us to see things from His perspective
**This draft post is over a month old, and I just found it today. There are lots of bad things going on right now... they have been for a while. But that verse still stands. And so does the fact that God is in control... even when we feel like all the wrong things are happening.
So I'm posting this late. I am also posting it because I hope the wonderful woman who blessed me that Sunday will read this and be reminded of how her obedience to what God called her to do that day made a lasting difference for others. (You know who you are!)