Thanksgiving ... and changing my bad attitude into a grateful one!
Some news… the blog is now on Facebook! So if you're feeling social follow along here. I have some plans for the Facebook page in the future, but I’m not ready to share them just yet… so stay tuned!
And now, what I really wanted to share ...
During the week I have a routine. Before getting ready for work, while my house is still quiet and dark, I light a candle, grab my coffee, and settle into my favorite chair. Taking a few moments to calm my random thoughts, I try to recreate the stillness I experienced on that retreat - the stillness that allowed me to clearly hear Him.
Some mornings I read from a daily devotional. Sometimes I prepare for my upcoming bible study. Sometimes I write in my prayer journal. Regardless of what I’m doing, I relish the “one-on-one” time to which He has called me. Easily one of my favorite times of day, it fills me with a peace that lingers for hours to come.
Unfortunately, there are days when my morning prayer time is interrupted. It’s typically on a weekend or holiday when I’ve attempted to sleep late while still “squeezing in” my morning quiet time before my family wakes. The problem is I don’t know when they’ll wake, and very often my children or husband walk into the room, interrupting my prayer time.
Want to know my very first thought when they enter? My initial reaction? I could tell you I’m delighted to see them. But I’d be lying to you...
Truth be told (and I'm not proud of this), I’m aggravated. In fact, I'm FILLED WITH FRUSTRATION. Even worse, it’s often directed at the person who has done nothing other than wake up and walk into the room! (I realize this paints a pathetic picture of myself, but I promised I’d keep it real!)
I'll abruptly close my book (often with a frustrated sigh) as I end my quiet time and greet whoever has entered. If the person talks to me – or heaven forbid asks me to do something for them – I respond accordingly (but often with an edge in my voice so they’ll know I’m bothered by their interruption).
As I reflect on my behavior I am embarrassed at how quickly I can transition from feelings of peace and serenity to flat out irritation over the simplest of things. And worse yet, it’s very often directed at the people I love most.
I’m telling you about this now because it happened again recently. Only this time, by the grace of God, I did something different…
Instead of snapping my journal closed to demonstrate my annoyance, I took a slow breath and brought my frustration TO THE LORD, journaling ABOUT MY IRRITATION. And as I complained to the Lord that the presence of this family member had interrupted my plans for morning prayer, He gently pointed out these interruptions, although not part of MY plan, were actually part of HIS.
He wants my kids to see me with my Bible open before me - so they’ll view reading His Word as normal. And so one day He can speak to them through His Word, just as He has spoken to me.
He pointed out that what I view as an interruption and annoyance may actually be an opportunity for me to plant a seed that will one day inspire my own family to sit quietly with Him.
And He didn’t stop there.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, He reminded me that He’s asked me to be GRATEFUL IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And that this is different than being grateful FOR all circumstances. The fact that my family is interrupting my prayer time by entering my living room means He has blessed me with a home. With a family. And with my faith. And for these things I am incredibly grateful.
So here I sit, on the eve of Thanksgiving, reflecting on the many blessings He has granted me. In this setting I experience my gratitude as a warm feeling, welling up from within, and I can express it to others easily.
But sometimes, gratitude is not a feeling. It’s a choice.
It involves an intentional search for the good in whatever situation is before me, even when it first appears negative. It involves a deliberate decision to be grateful, even when this opposes my initial reaction. It involves prayerfully asking God to show me His presence, even in a very difficult situation. And without a doubt, resolving to choose gratitude in all situations is something I can only accomplish with God’s help. Because as I have embarrassingly shown you, on my own, I am quick to complain when my plans fall through, have very little patience, and easily act in a most ungrateful and childish way!
I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with loving family and friends and a delicious meal. I also know it’s possible that we will all encounter upsetting or frustrating circumstances over the next few days.
Feeling annoyed because you’re “doing all the work?" What a blessing that you have people to dine with!
Unhappy because you’re spending time with family members who aren’t your favorite? What a blessing that you aren’t alone on the holidays!
Irritated because you have to work during the holidays? What a blessing that you are employed!
Grieving as you celebrate your first Thanksgiving without a loved one who has recently passed? I'm so sorry for your loss, and I pray God comforts you. But what a blessing that your life was touched by that person and that you now have treasured memories of your time together.
So on this Thanksgiving Eve - and on all days - I pray that we will all remain rooted in our faith. That we remain open to receiving His grace. And that the Holy Spirit helps us to view each frustrating and upsetting moment through a lens of gratitude.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
And as always, I'm praying God breathes life into these words.