Friday, November 29, 2013

Challenging Thankfulness

Our pastor posted a link on Facebook to a very interesting article yesterday, one which gave me pause and which my mind kept returning to all day.

The article can be found here, if you'd like to read it in its entirety:  A Twist on the Thankfulness Trend.  In essence it is about the popularity of "Thankfulness Posts" on social media, where people will spend 30 days posting each day about all the wonderful things in their life, big and small, that they are thankful for.  It's sort of a nice little thing, though often repetitious, but I would never be one to knock being intentional about gratitude.

However, this article comes at it from an very different angle.  In it, author Emily A. Dause asks us to do the following:

I want, however, to challenge you think about your reasons to be thankful a little differently. Instead of thinking about the typical “good” parts of life for which you are thankful, consider parts of your life that you can be thankful for even though 1) others may see your reasons as negative or 2) you may see them as trials yourself.

For some reason, particularly this year, the idea of being thankful for the very things we sometimes view as less-than-gratitude-inducing felt so appropriate, so I thought that on this Thanksgiving , I would give it a try.

1)  I am thankful for financial strain - Sure, it gets old to constantly hold your breath until the mortgage is paid at the end of the month.  It is frustrating to put off medical care, or to have to constantly juggle various "needs" and triage them.  But were it nor for the lean times, I might not have as much appreciation for my Mom jeans from Walmart, the hand-me-down-offered-in-love couch, the case of apples someone shared with us.  If it were all easier, I would miss living in daily gratitude for every single little thing.

2)  I am thankful for learning disabilities - This one probably sounds really strange, but as we have worked to help our kids who have struggled with a wide variety of learning disabilities, I have been able to witness a rare kind of courage and self-motivation.  Watching as our children have overcome so much has been incredibly humbling, and they inspire me every single day.

3)  I am thankful for an uncertain future - It takes me a lot of work to be thankful for this one, and we live in a virtual cycle of uncertainty with seasonal businesses and contract renewals in question every couple of years.  If we were to have the illusion of more certainty, we wouldn't be forced to work hard on leaning on God.  We also would live differently if we accepted the falsehood that we had guarantees. Everything is a little more vivid, a little more sweet, when you have no idea what life might be like just a little further down the road.

4)  I am thankful for infertility - Oh, how I am thankful for it!

5)  I am thankful for piles and piles of laundry, shoes left laying around, hairbands found on the floor, ghastly boy bedrooms, peeing playing taxi driver, and size 12 stinky work boots left for me to stub my toe on. - The daily things that drive every wife and mom crazy are the very things whose absence would leave a size 12 hole in our hearts.  We complain, we beg, we plead, and we seldom take the time to stop and think what it would be like if that annoyance were not there.

6)  I am thankful for paths not taken - There have been times in my life when I have asked myself, "What if...".  We can't have it all, and I am thankful for the things I didn't do.  I may have missed some experiences, but I gained others.

7)   I am thankful for my time living in a spiritual desert - Though it was a lonely, disconnected, disheartening many years, it allowed me the time to look at my faith with a critical eye, to discern what I held dear and to come to an understanding of just how much I needed to walk with the Spirit in order to feel whole.

We are who we are because of the good AND bad things in our lives.  We mature, we gain compassion, we learn from everything that happens to us.  We just don't often think to give thanks for the sum total of it all.

Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us...

1 comment:

Melissa S. said...

Wow. Just wow. That's a great way of grasping what thankfulness is all about. Thanks for sharing.