The Surprise Gift Of Gratitude


It’s the forgotten holiday. The one sadly placed between Halloween and Christmas.


It’s the forgotten word. The one sadly placed between “demand” and “not enough”.

This is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the spiritual truths of Christmas and Easter–they’re the basis for my hope. I love Independence Day for the joyous celebration of us as a nation. I love Valentine’s Day for the intentional focus on and valuing of loved ones.

What makes Thanksgiving so special is the pause.

Retail outlets don’t know what to do with it because they’re in such a hurry to promote Christmas buying. Makers of lawn ornaments are limited to pilgrims and turkeys. Decoration places hope the leftovers from Halloween will suffice.

It’s not as commercialized. It’s not as overdone. It’s a chance to rest and reflect on how being in America–no matter who you are, what your political ideology, ethnicity or gender–is still better than being almost anywhere else in the world.

A truly American holiday, the opportunity to think through the things we can be grateful for is a gift. So often I look at what doesn’t work–how our country feels broken at so many levels, how people hurt one another without cause, how we can be calloused to the stories of those around us–and bemoan how hard life is.

This side of heaven, life will never be comfy, cozy and safe. It will be hard.

Gratitude, however, is a gift of perspective. It’s choosing to look at the small things–tiny things–that are gems of joy in the midst of the often-focused-on manure of life.

It’s easier for me to come up with words like disappointed, discouraged, unhappy, unfulfilled and dissatisfied when I look at my circumstances. Those words pop out like unwanted blemishes. I try to cover them with makeup–like a smile or positive word–because they just don’t look good.

Blemishes are often the result of systemic issues.

I need to assess my heart. To see what’s happening there that makes me choose the snide and snarky rather than the kind and caring.

I’m a very blessed woman. Jesus has given me a hope I can’t provide for myself. He’s gifted me with complete forgiveness, total acceptance, unconditional love. He knows and values me.

In response to the wellspring of blessing, I need to respond with gratitude. Not react to my circumstances with disappointment and dismay.

Choose my words.

Words like grateful, joyful, thankful, encouraged.

Not easy when my focus is negative. Which comes from living in a broken world.

It means looking at what’s good in my life.

The people I love in my life. I got out of bed this morning. I’m able to move, communicate, engage with others. A roof over my head. A means of getting around.

And hope for my tomorrow.

Thanksgiving is the pause we need to think about our bigger picture. Not more work. Not more stuff. Not more power.

More of what counts.

What counts in your life?

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