In a few days, Thanksgiving will be over. But giving thanks doesn’t have to be.
I love Thanksgiving. Not only do I enjoy the fun, food, feasting, and fellowship, but I think it’s beautiful to have a season in which we reflect on what we are thankful for. It forces us to be reflective, permits us to recognize how much we’ve been blessed. I think it also makes us all a bit more cheerful; focusing on the positive things in life is good for us. It makes us more patient with our kids, more appreciative of our spouses, more optimistic about humanity in general.
But a few months from now, when the days seem more dark than light, when we are weary of the cold, when our children are tearing apart the house in cabin fever, will we be as quick to be grateful? I’ll speak for myself: no.
The Importance of Gratitude
Yet I know it is important to be grateful. To count our blessings. To thank God for how he has sustained, provided for, protected, delivered, delighted in, and lavished upon us.
It changes our perspective and our posture to be grateful. I don’t want to go through life entitled, disappointed, or demanding. I want to be appreciative, hopeful, content.
Some way or another, our little family has fallen into a rhythm of expressing gratitude daily. I think it stemmed out of my concern on how I teach my children to pray. As someone who finds prayer extremely important, yet grossly misunderstood, I have always been wary about how I present prayer to my kids. I don’t want them to think they have to speak in a certain tone of voice or say certain key words for God to hear them. I don’t want them to feel bound to having closed eyes or still hands. I also don’t want them to present Him with a list of demands. I simply want them to talk to Him.
Because of this, I wanted to establish a “different” way of praying. So many days, instead of closing our eyes and bowing our heads and having a formal prayer at breakfast, we simply go around the table and state something we are thankful to God for as we eat together.
I originally started this daily ritual out of concerned about the spiritual health of my children, but I’ve found it has had a profound impact on me. It makes me stop and reflect on what I have to be thankful for, even when I’ve felt the least grateful inside. It’s a consistent reminder that I have been blessed plenty, even when I feel the most empty.
It also has given me a special gift. As I ask the question, “What is something you’re thankful to God for?” I am often filled with joy at my family’s answers. When Kevin is with us, he shares something that reveals a bit of his heart. Levi’s answers always bring a smile to my face and help me feel more connected to him. Even little Lucy, who is still learning to talk, will sometimes respond to my question with the name of someone or something, and I am in awe of her ability to extend gratitude to her Creator.
When we take the time to utter thanks, to give a name to that which we appreciate, to give credit to God for the good gifts he’s given, it affects our hearts. It keeps negative thinking at bay. It reminds us that there’s always something to be thankful for.
So, dear reader, enjoy your feast with loved ones this week. Take time to articulate thanks for the good gifts you’ve been given. But don’t let it stop after the last slice of pie is eaten.
Strive to express gratitude daily; to God, your spouse, your children, your family, your friends, your coworkers, your community. Even when you’re not feeling grateful, it’s amazing to see that there still is much to be thankful for; that’s a humbling, beautiful gift to receive every day.
You can take it from me.