“He places the lonely in families…” Psalm 68:6
So it’s Thanksgiving. Today we’ll gather around tables in dining rooms and kitchens across America. We’ll travel long distances (if the weather cooperates) or we’ll stay close to home. We’ll find a way to invite our friends because they help balance out the extended family awkwardness. We’ll hold our tongues and say our prayers and try to bring the best of us into the midst of our family-messiness. We’ll turn off our cell phones (hopefully) with the intention of leaning into one another. We’ll listen to Aunt Muriel’s current aches and pains. We’ll keep a watchful eye on Uncle Joe with his too free words and hands. Grandma will tell that story again, the one about Thanksgiving ’62.
And we’ll go home full, tired, and feeling loved and overwhelmed with all that family goodness OR we’ll go home frustrated and angry and feeling very alone. Thanksgiving is the day we surrender to the existence of the hard hallelujahs.
Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart
I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart,
I’m writing the book on your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
I’m singing your song, High God.
Psalm 9:1-2 TM
I’m thankful God with a grateful, full heart… and for your wonders, because it’s a wonder we don’t kill each other or maul one another or limp away from each other and that has to be your work.
And sometimes we do: limp, maul, kill.
This will probably be the day you stand in the kitchen peeling potatoes with that person who has said the wrong thing or the right thing at the wrong time. And perhaps you haven’t let it go yet because they keep adding to that wound – like salt rubbing deep. Perhaps you have let it go, but they haven’t changed the way you had hoped.
Maybe they have never let you grow up. Or maybe you aren’t acting very grown up. Trying to ACT like anything can be highly overrated.
You do not want to ruin the day. You do not want to harbor the resentment. You do not want to go back into that cycle of retreating or bursting with rage. And you want to keep the peace and be OK. You do not want to retreat angry and bleeding again.
You feel like you are walking right into the middle of the lifesucker’s den…
Just once it would be nice to walk away from one another and be more than FINE.
So before we leave the house or open the door to invite them all inside we have to find a way to be grateful no matter what comes.
“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.” -Ann Voskamp
This may be just the day to practice gratitude and bless others even in the midst of the ugly places of our lives around all those voices that suck out our insides.
This may be the day we bow low and focus where praise, gratitude and thanksgiving should always be focused on our GOD…
- not on how others treat us.
- not on whether or not we are accepted and loved.
- not on whether others approve of us and our children and our spouse and our life
Gratitude to God doesn’t require other people… this is about me and God. My heart before His throne.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
God will remain the ONE faithful constant in our lives long after the turkey is picked clean and company goes home.
He is the only one in this generation and the last who is truly faithful and never ending in love.
God outlives, outloves and outdoes the lifesuckers.
He knows that life is not a competition, it’s an invitation to live.
I will not die; instead, I will live
to tell what the Lord has done.
He is with you no matter how the stuffing turns out or what shape the conversation takes.
He goes before you and behind you.
You can keep your boundaries and speak your, Yes and No. You can make a choice before God to PREFORGIVE whatever is said or done.
You can make a choice to be you – the real you no matter how that is received. Because truth from your innermost being is what God desires.
Live authentically before God and [wo]man.
Face the hard hallelujahs head on with your eyes wide open, ears alert, and heart guarded (Prov 4:23).
Give thanks with a grateful heart.
“The practice of giving thanks…eucharisteo…this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.” -Ann Voskamp
We can lean in and love others no matter how that love is received because we are accepted and loved by a sovereign, faithful God.
And He understands what it means to our hearts and lives when we choose life and love.
God – Be near this day. We love you and praise you for your presence and the bountiful ways you preserve our lives. Guard our hearts and mouths today. That we may not harm those we love with our words or actions; that we may not be harmed by the words or actions of those we long to love. Help us to enter into today with a spirit of forgiveness and not resentment. May anger be far from our table. May entitlement be far from our homes. May gladness fill our hearts and joy overflow in our lives. May our words be gracious this day. May our children be protected from the mouths of angry, prideful [wo]men. Help us to love as Christ has loved us. Teach us to lean in to one another. God we cling to your strength to make it through today with thanksgiving. In Jesus Name, Amen.