Monday, November 24, 2014

Just Try

There is always a reason to be thankful… not just in November, not just when we’re praying at the dinner table, not just at church on Sunday, not just when a specific prayer is answered.  Always. 

For some of us, ironically, it’s harder to be thankful this time of year than others.  The simple reminder, the unspoken pressure, the general expectation to be thankful sparks involuntary recoil deep inside of me.  You see, I have prayed the same prayer continually, persistently, for well over five years.  Yet my prayer has remained (and seemingly will remain) unanswered.  So when commercials with kids piling out of cars at grandma’s on Thanksgiving fill my television, pictures with babies in Santa’s lap fill my computer screen, and every display in Target reads, “Give Thanks” the human side of me says, “Why?” 

But something even deeper inside of me says, “Just try.” 

Thankfulness, gratitude, isn’t our natural human tendency.  We are much more inclined to be selfish.  We are always wanting more, demanding more…of those around us, of ourselves, and whether we like to admit it or not, of God.  But the truth is, we could get everything we think we want, and it still would never be enough, at least not this side of heaven.  Every single life has holes, missing pieces…some of us just rearrange things to hide them more easily than others.  But the missing pieces are no excuse to overlook the rest of the puzzle. 

So this week, I’m taking that challenge from deep inside my heart: just try, and hoping you will do the same.  With a little effort, I think we’ll see, no matter our circumstances, that it’s easier to be thankful than not to be.  As long as I keep a tight grip on my selfish desires, it’s easy to convince myself that I’m lacking, that it’s not enough.  But if I just try to overlook the missing pieces, with a deep breath, with a whispered prayer, with a fresh look at all those pieces I do have, it’s harder not to be thankful.

Besides, what if the missing pieces aren’t really missing at all?  In truth, we have everything we need to be happy on any given day.  Too often, we create reasons to be unhappy, to be ungrateful.  We focus on the one thing we don’t have instead of the thousand things we do have.  Yes, it’s possible that we’ll find the missing piece and the puzzle will be complete.  But sometimes, just when we least expect it, the puzzle gets rearranged and we realize we had the pieces we needed all along.  Other times, we may spend our whole life wondering about that hole, but I’m convinced when this life is over, we’ll understand. 

There is always a reason to be thankful… not because we are better than someone else, have more than someone else, or have achieved more than someone else.  Instead, we are thankful because we are better than we have been, because we have what we need, and because no matter what we have or haven’t achieved, there is always the opportunity to do more, to do better…to be better.  We just have to keep trying, even (especially) when it’s hard. Because there is always a reason to be thankful…

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