Happy Thanksgiving 2021!
Updated: Nov 28, 2021
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!! This is the first blogpost I have ever written (in my life!), and it seems appropriate to start on a day that is set aside to give thanks. I want to start by saying thank you so much for taking the time to join me here! I may never get to meet you (though I hope our Lord might allow for our paths to cross if we have not yet met), and I want to emphasize that I appreciate you taking the time to consider this blog, especially with all of the other things that you could be doing right now.
And I'll try not to take too much of your time :) This is all so new for me, so I also ask for your patience. I would like to share from my heart, and I'll do my best to make connections back to Maybe (that's how I will affectionately abbreviate the title of my book:) as well as to other relevant sources. So, here are a few thoughts:
For those of you who follow my partner account on Instagram (@maybethewholeocean), I share page 204 where I express my belief that gratitude is the "ultimate direction of happiness." So "Happy Thanksgiving" might be more than just a greeting or a way of celebrating a day--it might be a way of reminding ourselves of a truth--that gladness and gratitude go together! We will find happiness as we "count our blessings," as we bring to mind all of the good things we have in our lives.
To be honest though, today I have struggled to be thankful. There are health concerns in our family (one person has very serious cancer and two others will not be at a family meal because they are still recovering from Covid) and other things on my mind that feel very heavy. And those of you who've read Maybe may remember that heaviness is what characterizes sadness. Of course, a major reason I wrote Maybe was to capture the ways that all feelings, positive and negative, can be resources for relationships, so I'm not certainly not knocking sadness--just saying that even though this is Thanksgiving, I am finding it a challenge for me to be grateful.
By writing that last line, I am trying to be both transparent and intentional. See, I am trying to learn to train my mind, and perhaps more importantly my heart, to associate certain things with situations that are "challenges." For example, by definition, a challenge is difficult, and also by definition, difficult means "not impossible." Or even more importantly, difficult situations can lead to growth. And most importantly, difficult situations can position us to experience more of what our Lord can do and more of who He is (I will write more about this later).
So, I don't know what you may be experiencing today. I hope this finds you very well and enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and at the same time, I imagine many of you may also be experiencing your own challenges today.
There is an upbeat Pentecostal song by David Ingles called "Put on the Garment of Praise" (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HVXsgu869g) and it is taken from a line in Isaiah 61 which says, "the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (v. 3, KJV). This is actually from the passage Jesus quotes from when He returns to Nazareth and teaches in the synagogue about how He is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (which ultimately leads to Him being rejected) right after His time of temptation in the wilderness (see Luke 4:1-30).
So, interestingly though perhaps not surprisingly, if I will allow them to, the struggles of today can return me, and maybe you as well, to the life-giving words of our Lord. For it was in that synagogue in Nazareth that He announced,
The spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor
He has sent me to proclaim
freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the
Lord's favor (Luke 4:18-19, NIV)
Talk about something to be grateful for! If we have ever felt poor, imprisoned, blind, or oppressed (or any other experience marked by certain kinds of pain or heaviness), is this not truly good news? That He has come to undo these things and bring us His favor?
As I think of His announcement, I'm beginning to feel a little lighter. On a day when it is hard to give thanks, maybe I can start with praise--with acknowledging that, of all the things He could have said, He proclaimed His intention to rescue those who struggle, who are weak and needy and discouraged. And I think His pronouncement that day in Nazareth is something that still applies to me and to all of us on this day, wherever we may be.
So, to close, may we all take His words to heart on this particular day and everyday, really. And may we all know that He remains committed to His mission and to His good news and to us and our freedom! In addition to the precious gifts of good food, family, friends, health, and the holiday season, His words and the realities they represent are particular gifts I want to give Him thanks for--and I invite you to join me! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone-I'm so grateful for you and hope you have a very meaningful and restful day!