"So," I asked 11-year old *Monique (name changed for confidential reasons), "What do you like about Thanksgiving?"
I was expecting an answer related to stuffing, pie, whipped cream, shopping, or having a couple of extra days of no school.
"I love that we have a day to think about all the little things we're thankful for, because we don't usually do that."
This was a conversation I had with one of the girls who was recently matched with a mentor in our program. I arrived at her home a few minutes early, and I was making small talk with this bright, mature young girl. I certainly didn't expect that answer, and it put a huge smile on my face. From the mouths of babes...
Thanksgiving Day 2011 has come and gone. In the weeks preceeding this annual day of feasting, I, like most people, tend to reflect on those things I am thankful for, since that is the nature of the holiday.
I find the word "thanksgiving" to be a difficult word, mostly because I believe that it has lost its power in this culture. We use this in conjunction with phrases like "counting blessings." When a clerk at a grocery store gives us our change, we say thank you, because it's common courtesy. When a loved one gives us a gift that is meaningful and impacts our lives, we also say thank you. Certainly these are at two ends of the spectrum. I believe that we should be grateful for both.... remembering to thank someone doing a job that serves us for little pay....and expressing gratitude for the acts of love that those closest to us display.
I believe in living a life of gratitude and remembering to thank God for His activity in our lives. I believe in the importance of reminding those close to us how much they mean. I believe that the practice of gratitude is a crucial spiritual practice. I had a seminary professor who shared once that, "Gratitude is the beginning of humility." Beautiful. When we truly practice gratitude, we are reminded that it is God who provides all things...not my own efforts. When I remember who my provider is, I am reminded that God takes care of all things, and that His grace truly is sufficient. When we practice gratitude, I am reminded that (from the words of the movie Rudy) that, "I know two things. God is God, and I am not."
And not only is practicing gratitude important, it's how we enter into the deepest part of God's heart...
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I believe that, for the most part, we live in a world where we don't remember to share with others how important they are to us. I just sometimes wish I had a word that had more depth and power to convey what it means to be utterly grateful and thankful.
I certainly don't want to be cliche, but I'm about to be. I am about to share the obligatory list of all that I am thankful for, because I believe this to be an important thing to remind myself of.
Today, I am thankful for...
*a family who loves me.* friends who encourage and believe in me.* good health, and steadily improving health.* the ability to improve health by doing easy and natural things.* renewed relationships* God's constant provision.* God's grace, especially in the midst of my mistakes.* new opportunities.* a job I love* co-workers who typically feel more like family than officemates.* my dog* beautiful Kentucky weather.* the hospitality of both friends and strangers.* never having to go without* having opportunities to impact this world in a positive way.* challenges.* wisdom*mentors* words* scripture* laughter.* tears.* music.* the ability to think.* medicine.* doctors.* good memories.* fun experiences.* the ability to continually learn.* hugs.* children.* life giving conversation.* exercise.* travel.*board games.* ice cream.* hot chocolate.* books.* movies.*inspiration.*perspective.* advice.* the faithful who have gone before me.* shared experiences.*