I find myself loving the season of Thanksgiving more and more as I grow up. Who doesn’t love a day dedicated to food, family, and football? I’ve always had Thanksgiving at my house. My brothers and I drink hot chocolate while we watch the parade. My mom spends all day cooking in the kitchen while my dad tries to be helpful. We get a few days off of school and it’s really great.
When I was younger, I used to say that I was thankful for things like my mom and my dad. As I got older, I was thankful for my brothers and my friends, then stuff like school or the fact that I live in a free country. All month long people have been posting on the internet about the things that they’re thankful for, and it feels like rattling off a list of reasons to be thankful has almost become cliche, and so has telling someone you’re thankful for them. Because it feels like everyone is thankful that they have friends and family.
I’ve decided that I’ve gone through my whole life with a very surface level view of thankfulness. I’m “thankful” at Thanksgiving and when it suits me. That’s pretty much it. Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That verse has been weighing so heavily on my heart. I’m supposed to be thankful every second of every day for every single thing that happens. I’m supposed to be viewing every event in my life from a position of thankfulness no matter how hard it is to do so. The level of thankfulness I possess should not depend on circumstances.
Then we get to the question of what being truly thankful actually means. I used to be able to answer that question easily, quickly reciting some dictionary definition about being appreciative. But I’ve decided that it is so much deeper than that. I have many friends for whom I am beyond thankful. My life is benefited due to their entire existence, not just what they do for my existence. It’s about that event or that person, not how they effect me.
There are things that happen in life that we feel like we can never be thankful for. Cancer. The Holocaust. 9/11. Hurricanes. Sandy Hook. Kony. The list goes on forever. Of course we can’t see the good in it. Of course we can’t. Do you think that the disciples saw anything good when Jesus died on the cross? He knew that good was coming and that good would win, but they didn’t. The best thing that has ever happened to mankind came out of something that seemed to be the worst. God knows the good that is coming out of everything that happens. We don’t have to know what it is; we just have to recognize it and be thankful.
I’m thankful for all of the incredible opportunities I’ve been given. I’m thankful for the pastor who cared enough to talk to me and promised to officiate my wedding. I’m thankful for the schools I’ve attended, the teachers that have given me everything I need to succeed. I’m thankful for Dru, Philip, and Michael and the house in which we learned to get along. I’m thankful for my church and the wonderful cloud of witnesses I have surrounding me. I’m thankful for my friend who is always so encouraging and walks me to class. I’m thankful for YoungLife and the extraordinary girls I have for leaders. I’m thankful for the drawings I have on my wall and the precious angels that drew them. I’m thankful for friends who take milkshakes to each other when they have their wisdom teeth removed. I’m thankful for my life, every single minute of it. But we’re called to be thankful in all things, because of all things, and for all things. So starting today, I am not “thankful for…” I am just thankful.
1 Corinthians 16:23-24,