I absolutely love Thanksgiving. The food. The family. Mostly the pies. I’m a big fan of those. I love how Thanksgiving always feels like it comes at just the right time in the year for me to take a step back, take a little bit of time off, and head back home to see some friends and family that I generally haven’t seen in a little while. For whatever reason, it just feels like a lot of stuff converges for me at this time of year and it’s always my favorite holiday.
This year, I’m struck by something different in the holiday landscape though. I’ve noticed (and probably you, too) that a startlingly large number of stores are actually opening their doors not at midnight for Black Friday, but actually on Thanksgiving Day. I was meeting with a Highland Campus leader a few weeks ago who works in retail, and she shared with me her incredible frustration that corporate America just can’t stand the thought that they wouldn’t be able to squeeze every single possible dime out of people 365 days a year.
I’m starting to think she’s right. I’m not on here to rail against “corporate America,” but I am here to help us undertake the work of examining our hearts. And I think it says something about us and our culture that we can’t take one day to simply sit back and be thankful. Ingratitude is the cancer of the soul. And in our haste to shift our focus to the buying, busy-ness, and consumerism that has become the Christmas season in America, we’ve lost sight of a valuable opportunity to reset ourselves spiritually and focus on what’s important.
On this Thanksgiving Eve, here’s all I’m proposing: Count your blessings. Tomorrow, I want you to take 15 minutes, sit back, and make a list of all that you have in your life to be thankful for. Here’s what I think will happen. In the first 2-3 minutes, you’ll list off all of the generic and general stuff that everyone lists. Then you’ll hit a block and be tempted to quit. Keep going. Keep pressing through. It’s in pressing through the “block” you’ll find some of the greatest, most unexpected sources of gratitude. You’ll find some incredible things to be thankful to God for.
But beyond that, I’d love to challenge you to go a step farther. I want to challenge you to actually tell people (where applicable) on your list that you’re thankful for them. Pick up the phone and make a call. Send a text. Guys, we aren’t very good at sharing our feelings. Have that awkward conversation. Let people know you are thankful. And in the process, I think God shapes and changes our hearts to be more thankful.
If ingratitude is the cancer of the soul, thankfulness is the antidote. It’s so easy for us to forget this. But on this day of the year, let’s learn the rhythms of gratitude well, and see God cultivate growth in our souls in the process.