Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Thanksgiving (04/18/05)
TITLE: A thankful heart is a happy heart
By Cheryl Johnson
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“Let’s go around and name one thing we’re thankful for,” pipes my ever-enthusiastic mother.
OK. I admit it. Inside I’m rolling my eyes. Naming something we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving—hmm, there’s an idea I’ve not heard before. That’s original. Of course, we all go around and give nice answers like our country, freedom, our health, each other, R2D2 (OK, that one’s from my 3-year-old). Yada yada yada. All things we know we should be thankful for, but that we usually take for granted. But see, that’s exactly why it’s a useful exercise. Because we *do* take so much for granted. We’re usually so busy comparing ourselves with others and dwelling on what we don’t have, that stopping to name things we’re grateful for can seem ridiculous, juvenile even. That’s something cute for kids to do, but we adults don’t need such silliness, or do we?
I can work myself into quite a lather if I choose to feel resentful and sorry for myself all day long because my husband works long hours. If I spend enough time having conversations in my head about it, by the end of the day when he finally does walk through the door, I’m so angry and miserable that I don’t even want to see him. What if instead I choose to be thankful that he has a job? Or instead of getting frustrated and angry at my son when he dumps out the basket of toys for the two hundredth time that day (after I’ve cleaned them up one hundred ninety-nine times already), what if I choose to be thankful that I have a healthy child who is able to make messes?
I think it’s no coincidence that being thankful and having peace are linked up in the Bible. If we’re looking for things to be thankful for instead of things to complain about (which, let’s face it, can be a favorite pastime for some of us…ahem, I’m not naming any names), we’re thinking about things that are pure, lovely, noble, and excellent. (Sound familiar? See Philippians 4:8.) And it’s much easier to set our minds on things above when we’re in an attitude of gratitude. Try going around grumbling to yourself about how your husband doesn’t appreciate or even understand how much work you do as a stay-at-home mom and see what that does for your mindset. It sure ain’t heavenly, I can tell you that.
I think my reaction to my mother’s suggestion at Thanksgiving dinner is typical of our jaded culture. It’s so much easier to criticize ourselves and others than to choose gratefulness. I guess that’s why it’s a good thing we have Thanksgiving. And maybe my mom’s little exercise would be useful to do every day, not just once a year. So, what are *you* thankful for? Balloons? Sunsets? Springtime flowers? R2D2?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, *with thanksgiving*, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7 NIV
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8 NIV
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. *And be thankful*.” Col. 3:15 NIV
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