Although spring is my favorite season, November is my favorite month. It’s because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Much like Darling Daughter #1 begins to listen to Christmas music well before Christmas, I like to get a head start on Thanksgiving by focusing on what I am thankful for all month long.
I love Thanksgiving most of all for a few reasons. I love it because it’s a time when our family and friends come together to celebrate. I love it because it’s a great holiday for including others, outside of your family, in your festivities. I love it because there is lots of food. (Food is my love language.) I also love it because there are no gifts, very few decorations and a whole lot less stress (although I have also finally destressed Christmas a great deal!) But most of all I love it because it is a season that reminds us to be thankful and to consider all that we are thankful for.
There have been a couple of times in my life when I have allowed myself to become wholly unthankful.
The first time that I can remember God smacking me in the head and pointing out that I wasn’t being thankful was almost a decade ago.
I had just come through a season where God had worked some pretty miraculous things in my life. Indeed, there is a whole long list of things that I can only explain as God moving me in a specific direction for a specific purpose and then shoring all of it up in some truly miraculous ways. During that time my “mantra” became “God’s got a plan!”. That phrase and belief became a part of my spiritual DNA. I believed it with every fiber of my being. I came to trust that God had a plan—always and in every situation. I knew that even when I couldn’t see it, I could still trust it. Because I could trust Him.
But not long after experiencing so many miraculous things I found myself in a situation where it seemed as if God would have to intervene or things were going to turn out badly. I remembered Philippians 4:6 which says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.”
So, I prayed. I petitioned. But I had no peace. I was feeling anxious all of the time. Worrying about the outcome of this situation. The praying and petitioning didn’t seem to be helping at all thus I decided it was time to have a new conversation with God. I pretty much said to Him, “Look, you said to bring my stuff to you by prayer and petition and that you would give me peace. Well, I’m praying but I don’t have any peace.”. And then I think I gave Him the famous Sally Brown line: “I just want what’s coming to me. I just want my fair share.” In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best approach but thankfully God is gracious, and He gets me, even when I am being snarky and sassy.
A few days later I was in church and it happened to be right before Thanksgiving. I can’t remember exactly what the sermon was about, but I remember that it seemed like God was saying to me that I needed to go back and read Philippians 4:6 again. Being the submissive woman that I am, I resisted. I also argued with God. I told him that I knew what that verse said. I had been quoting it to Him for days. Nonetheless, I continued to feel like I had to go back and read it again. So, I finally did. Here is what the verse actually says:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.”
OOOOHHHHH! I had totally been missing that “thanksgiving” part. But then my next thought was “but what exactly am I supposed to be thankful for?”
If you are thinking about now that God really does need to smack me a good one, I don’t disagree with you one bit. Thankfully, my next thought was to immediately realize that I truly had so very much to be thankful for even if God didn’t change this specific situation. After that I changed my conversations with God and focused mostly on being thankful and much less on being snarky.
The answer to that particular situation didn’t come for another 4 months but what did come was the peace that God had promised me when I brought “my stuff” to Him with prayer AND thanksgiving. Then four months later God began to bring the answers needed for the situation that I had been praying about. At that point, I was beyond thankful! I was overwhelmed with gratitude!
You would think that after learning that lesson I wouldn’t forget it. However, about a year ago I was in a place where I had been struggling with and against a specific situation in my life. I had been struggling for about 2 years. I was tired. I was frustrated. I just wanted God to change things. I was whiny and I was being a big baby. I had forgotten my mantra “God has a plan.” I couldn’t see the plan and I didn’t like the plan and I wanted a new plan.
There I sat with that mindset and one day a friend said to me, “let’s make a list of what we are thankful for”. My immediate first thought? It was this: “I’ve…got…NOTHING.”
My immediate second thought? WOAH! How in the world did I let myself get to this place? And from that very moment I set out to change my mindset.
You know what? Being thankful really is a choice and it’s a really good choice. Being thankful will change your perspective on absolutely everything.
It can take some time to re-train your brain to be thankful if it isn’t used to doing that. But some small changes can set you on the right path. Consider trying these things:
- Everyday write down 3 things for which you are thankful.
- Before you go to sleep each night think about the best part of your day and be thankful for it.
- Instead of asking your friends, spouse, children, or others “how was your day?”, ask them what the best part of their day was or ask them what they were most thankful for today.
- Each day send someone an email, a card, a text message, or something similar to tell them you are thankful for them and why.
You might have to start really small but that’s ok. Thankfulness has a way of growing when you give it a little attention and a little room.
Of course, it’s also November (my favorite month, don’t forget!!) and one of my favorite things to do in November is to “get my thankful on”! I try to post on social media daily about something I am thankful for. I try to do this each day from November 1st right up to Thanksgiving Day. I love when Facebook shows my November memories and I can look back on my thankful posts over the previous years.
Here is my challenge for you: Join me! Join me in flooding Facebook, Instagram, or whatever social media you use with thankful posts this month. If you are not a big social media user consider emailing or texting your co-workers or family and friends each day to share something you are thankful for. Invite others to join in.
It’s been a long, hard, divisive, overwhelming year for so many. Maybe we can help ourselves and others remember all the reasons we all have to be thankful!
Let’s do our part to make the world a happier, more peaceful, more thankful place.
Leave me a comment below and let me know your plans for “getting your thankful on”. How will you go about it? Will it be a challenge or will it come easily? Will you invite someone to join you on this adventure? (It will be an adventure if you allow it to be.)
Then, if I have encouraged you, inspired you, challenged you, made you laugh or roll your eyes, I would be thrilled and honored if you would share my blog with your friends and family on your social media accounts.
Thanks so much for hanging out here with me. I am very thankful for YOU!