“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them,
is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” ~ W.T. Purkiser
I am admitedly a glass half full kind of girl. Always have been. Hopefully always will be. I frequently list out daily praises and I genuinely enjoy digging through my past so that I am made aware of God’s grace and mercy to me over this relatively brief life. I’ve been teased more times than I can count for my sunny disposition and how “happy” I am. Let me tell you, as much as my God-given personality plays into my outlook on life, the bigger truth is that I’ve made a choice to recognize blessings.
For the longest time, on my parent’s fridge, there was this little poem about how our attitude affects our lives. I think my Dad had brought it from work… I think I recall him saying someone he worked with had been handing them out. I don’t remember the entire message of it (I would if I saw it, though!) but in essence, the point was that it’s not about what happens to you, it’s how you respond to it. I guess that’s kind of stating the obvious, but it apparently bears repeating. Have you noticed the rampant attitudes of negativity, hatred, selfishness, etc. that roam around like a hungry beast, waiting to devour anyone who even thinks about smiling? Ridiculous. Not fair. Not right.
I know there are moments and even seasons in life where it’s not easy to praise. No one has a perfect life. Even the seemingly happiest lives would probably surprise you with the depth of tragedy and pain they have suffered. That’s why it’s a choice. That’s why it’s a learned trait. Everyone suffers. Everyone feels pain. Everyone cries, gets lonely, has bitter moments, gets tummy aches, and the list goes on and on. You’re going to run into trouble, fall in a pit and stay in that pit if you are of the mind that no one has ever hurt the way you have. Let’s just level the playing field: life is hard, at one time or another, for all of us.
And that’s where counting your blessings comes in. I’m a big fan of the movie, White Christmas (and of musicals, romance and Bing Crosby in general) and when Bing sings about counting blessings as opposed to sheep when you’re tossing and turning… well, don’t laugh, but I think about that multiple times a week. True story. I wake up frequently during the night (I’m pregnant, remember?), plus my husband snores and my earplugs only work so well at times. There are nights when I literally cannot shut my brain off. Nights when no matter how many times I nudge my husband, he will not stop snoring like a hibernating black bear.
And at times like that I always think how I can choose to be irritated over my sleep deprivation… or I can count my blessings. I can thank God that my husband is alive and well and snoring beside me. I can give praise that we are expecting a little boy – that God has blessed us with this child. I can pray for and give thanks for my many friends, my family, our safe, little house…. the list goes on and on. Once you cultivate a heart of thanksgiving… once you make it a habit to see blessings before you offer curses… you’ll be amazed by how many blessings you can truly claim.
However, if you go through life assuming and/or likening God to a mean kid who holds a magnifying glass over your ant hill and that He’s intent on burning off your feelers (credit: Bruce Almighty) then you will always jump to the worst case scenario. The sky will always be falling. The milk will always be sour. Your marriage, children, church, friendships, family, etc. will always be lacking. It’s all a choice. Stop thinking that you “can’t help” but respond the way you do when bad things happen. Just as you choose to not use foul language around Great Aunt Peggy during the holidays, you can choose to either blow up over bad things or you can choose to be seasoned with more grace, rather than rage.
We are all very, very blessed. I am not discounting suffering, because it is there, it is real and it breaks hearts. There are bellies in this world that are starving. There are bodies ravaged by disease that will never recover this side of Glory. There are lives that never get the chance to be lived. There are marriages that are cut short by insane tragedy or selfish acts. There are children without parents and grandparents left alone to live out their final years. We live in a sinful, fallen world and there is hurt out there. There is loss.
But there is a “silver lining”… there is a Savior. And while it’s true that believing in Him will not make all of your wildest dreams come true or remove the possibility of hurting or struggling in life, it is true that believing in Him will give you the gift of eternal life… “that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish.” God has given us the best example and way to develop a grateful heart. He doesn’t leave us in the bad times. He doesn’t teach that this is all there is. He shows us by His love, His sacrifice and His grace that there can be found blessings found in pain (ie: death on a cross for Him, which gained eternal life for us). The attitude Christ exhibited in His life should develop gratitude in ours.
Thanksgiving time encourages us to do more than gorge ourselves on turkey and pie… it should make you very aware of the magnitude of the blessings that you have been given. It should be about more than hitting the best sales or getting ahead of someone in line. It should be about more than the closest parking spot or the biggest piece of pie or whose team won bigger. Our focus, words, actions and yes, attitude, need to grow up. They need to get beyond ourselves and to that place where we see sunshine over rain and about love being more important than always being right.
There’s much to learn, much to choose and much to be grateful for.
Have a truly blessed Thanksgiving holiday… and give praise where praise is due.
~ Mrs. W
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name
of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” ~ Colossians 3:17