Thanksgiving: From Holiday to Lifestyle
The fourth Thursday in November; a day set aside for thankfulness, spent with family and friends and full of reminders of what we are thankful for.
Each of us know the routine! We show up, family is everywhere, moms and grandmas and aunts are cooking, the men are talking over a game of football, and the children are playing outside. Then, when it comes time for the dinner, we all sit around the table and take a moment to go around said table in the ritual of saying what we are thankful for; each of us quietly trying to think of something we are thankful for, that will be better than what everyone else is thankful for. Thankfulness is certainly a competition, right?
We scour our brains in order to find a handful of things we have been truly thankful for throughout the entirety of the previous months; usually boiling down to the typical, and highly taken for granted, family, jobs, new car, etc.
Yet so often throughout those previous months we find ourselves consumed, overcome with the burdens of things around us and we wonder what it will take to find happiness; all the while being truly and openly thankful to ourselves and everyone around us has been reduced to a single day out of the year.. Truthfully, we place more value and happiness on certain holidays than we do any other day of the year.
Why should the fourth Thursday in November be any different from any other day of the year? Why should Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter?
We place so much value on worldly traditions and accept them as being among the greatest parts and times of our lives, when in truth every day is cause to celebrate! Thanksgiving should be a way of life, and not just a holiday!
Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying that you shouldn’t celebrate the holidays! They are a great time to be with family, and to share in some quite marvelous experiences! I am saying that you shouldn’t reduce the joy and the thankfulness that you experience in your life to a handful of days out of the year!
I have heard more times than I can count; “When will things just work out?!” and “I just want to to be happy,” or “Why can’t I just have as good a life as ‘so and so’ does?”
Referencing again a verse that I had used in a previous post, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
So many people turn this verse into something that it is not, and make God appear as someone He is not, by proclaiming that “This is God’s will,” when bad things happen and that is simply not true! God is not saying that you should be thankful in all things, because even the bad things are from Him!! No!
This verse, in truth, is saying that it is God’s will that we are always thankful no matter the circumstance; it is not saying anything about Him giving us circumstances, both good and bad, so we should be thankful! That’s nonsense!
Will God bless us? Certainly! Will He place us in positions that benefit us? Absolutely! The truth is, however, that the majority of the time we are responsible for our situations and our circumstances! Stop blaming God for not blessing you with a better relationship, job, family, and life in general when you aren’t willing to work for it!
He said “For I know the plans I have for you,” and that these plane are “plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
He wants us to have a good and happy life, but He also expects us to do our part in it! It isn’t something we’re given and not expected to maintain! Or do you not know that “faith without works is dead?” It does you no good to ask God for something in “faith,” and not produce the works that it takes to uphold those things!
I won’t turn this into a discussion of works, though! Don’t rush yourself, and try to grow beyond your faith! A house isn’t built in a day, and if you try to rush it then it will not stand! Be patient, be serious and determined! Do your part and stop expecting everyone else to be responsible for your own contentment! It is not their responsibility to give you something to be thankful for, rather it is your responsibility to be thankful for what you have; when you live this way, you will see a change in how much joy you experience in your life!
When we place low standards on ourselves, we will live a low standard life! On the other hand, however, when we understand our value and train ourselves to be thankful for everything in every situation we will begin to live much happier lives! Contentment should never be underestimated, but striving for things that make others happy because you are unhappy with the things in your life will only cause you grief!
Instead of complaining about your job, be thankful for it! It may not be the greatest job, in fact it may be the worst, but at least you have one! When you train yourself to stop complaining about your work, looking at only the negative things, and start to allow yourself to enjoy it you will certainly experience more joy and satisfaction no matter where you work! You will work harder, show up on time, become more productive, and you will definitely stand out from everyone else who is showing up full of dread for the very same job; this is how you get promotions, raises, and better benefits. Employers love employees who love their job, because those employees will be more productive!
Granted you may not make much money, but at least you’re making money! You may not have the greatest position, but at least you have one! You may not have the greatest benefits, but at least you have some! You will only obtain what you strive for, and if you are always unhappy rather than content you are not going to strive for more!
I’ll say it this way: You will only go as far as you are worth! If you are not thankful for your job, you will not do the work. If you are not doing the work, you will not be awarded accordingly! Good stewardship is a great thing to practice!
This does not only stand true for our workplace, but also our relationships, family life, everything! If you would stop for a moment and say to yourself, “I am so blessed to have such amazing children,” as opposed to, “OMG! I cannot handle these screaming brats!” you will see a change in not only how you experience your family life, but also in how well behaved those “screaming brats” are! They do learn from you and, unlike batteries, moods are included!
If you spend more time being thankful for your spouse, fiance(e), girl/boyfriend, you will treat them as though you are thankful! This will not only increase the happiness in your relationship on your part, but it will also greatly increase their happiness because in the actions that you take on account of this you have shifted from just being their significant other to the cause for their happiness in the relationship!
As with so many other things though, we expect others to put us in the positions that make us the happiest:
• When our significant other isn’t making us happy it’s their fault because “they aren’t trying hard enough to satisfy me in this relationship!” It certainly isn’t our fault for not fulfilling their needs; whether spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc!
• When our boss doesn’t promote us it’s their fault because “they’re a jerk,” and certainly not our fault for not showing up on time, being productive, or enjoying our job! Tell me this, why would any boss promote anyone who hates showing up to work on Monday?
• When our car won’t start it’s because it is “a piece of junk,” and definitely not because we haven’t maintained it properly!
• When we’re behind on our bills it’s because our “stupid job doesn’t pay us enough,” and not because we’re careless and irresponsible with our money!
When things aren’t going our way it is always the fault of that thing or person, and never our own. With so many things going wrong for us while “so and so has it so well,” you’d think that we would begin to see the pattern there! Do you see the pattern there? Perhaps it is our fault, and we’re blaming everything and everyone else to make ourselves feel better about our lack of responsibility and drive when it comes to obtaining and maintaining the things in our lives? Who’s to say..
When “so and so” treats their significant other with unconditional love and devotes themselves to them in every way, instead of being miserable because the other person isn’t “doing this or that,” goes to work on time and is productive because they allow themselves to enjoy their work rather than complain about it, disciplines and corrects their children as opposed to just sitting back and being annoyed with them because they’re wild and they don’t listen, and treats everything in their lives with thankfulness rather than dread.
We will work harder for the things that we are thankful for! This is an every day principle, not a once a year celebration!
I challenge you! Start a journal, nothing big just a small journal that you can write in every morning when you wake up, and every night before you go to bed! In this journal write down three things that you are thankful for; whether it is something big or small doesn’t matter, it can be anything from the person you love to the bagel you had for breakfast. It takes only a couple of minutes, but it will begin to put you in the practice of being thankful for everything! Think about these three things throughout the day, especially when you’re feeling overcome with negativity, and then at the end of the day write down why you are thankful for those things!
I choose to write down why I am thankful for them immediately after writing them, but that is my method. Find yours!
The truth is, however, when you train yourself DAILY to be thankful you will find yourself becoming much happier with your life and the people and things that are in it!
This does not only mean in times that things are going our way! We also need to learn to be happy even when things are not! That is the real goal! What good does it do me to only be happy when things are going my way? Honestly, the majority of the time they very likely will not be going my way! If I train myself to be thankful in even those times, then nothing will bring me down! If I put the principles that I am taught in the Word to practice, thanksgiving being just as important as the rest, then I will begin to live a happier and more productive life!