The feeling that seems to get buried beneath 364 other ordinary days.
Today is 11/22/2018, and it is the day dedicated to being thankful. This morning, in Wisconsin, it feels like a pretty average November morning. I sit here at my dining room table – awake before anyone else, thinking about what I can write about.
Outside, the leaves have all fallen off the trees, and the sky is a dull gray. The wind is blowing, and it is still fairly dark out. I have to be honest. None of it screams thankfulness. At least, not according to my pre-coffee perspective.
Yesterday, the stock market fell 500 points, continuing its drop in this last month’s lingering correction. Another shooting happened this week in Chicago. It seems there are quite a few things to notice right now that only make me fearful or distressed, rather than grateful.
I often think that thankfulness is the second part of a sequence – the first part is some blessing that overjoys me. And therefore, without that feeling of being overjoyed, I have nothing to be grateful for. Of course, this isn’t true.
Because, some of the most grateful people in the world are not the richest, or most privileged. When I look at pictures of third world countries, I’m surprised to see how many people are smiling – despite their less than desirable conditions. They seem to be thankful for what little they have, even though they seem to have less than me. Less than most people.
It all sort of debunks the myth I sometimes fall for – that thankfulness is part of a sequence. Thankfulness actually is a state of mind. A choice. An action. In truth, I can be thankful at all times. It doesn’t have to depend on any prerequisite circumstance or event.
Right now, and at any given moment, I can be thankful that I have a pulse. I can be thankful that I slept under a roof last night, rather than in some cold alley – unsafe and unsheltered. I can be thankful that I didn’t skip any meals yesterday, I had clean water to drink, and clean air to breathe.
I can be thankful that I’m not in prison for my beliefs – being persecuted by a tyrannical government force. I can be thankful that I haven’t been the victim of a car-bombing lately, and that I probably won’t be anytime soon – unlike what some people around the world can say.
I can be thankful that I have a good job, good friends, a good family, and a good life. I have transportation, insurance and all different kinds of security that put me into a top percentile among all the rest of the world. Why would it make sense, and what right would I even have to focus only on what’s missing in my life, as I so often do?
The problem in my life stems less from what I lack, more from what I fail to acknowledge. It’s so easy to be focused on the negative – to be caught up in the latest scary headline or the latest news about the economy. It’s so easy to be concerned about my next big thing – my next project at work or at home. And, so easy to let my contentment be postponed, thinking that I’ll have better reasons to be thankful later on when X or Y or Z is finished.
But, if just for one day, I would like to break out of that. Obviously, I have a lot to be thankful for right now. I’m guessing… you do too? Let’s let today be a day where we thank God for all that we have, and spend less time worrying and thinking about what we don’t have.
I hope you have an awesome Thanksgiving! I pray that the Lord gives you comfort you if you are going through difficult times. God bless,