What it Really Means to Be Thankful.

It’s November! The month when gratitude is on people’s minds and lips. We all know gratitude is something we should practice year round, but November is when we are reminded by our culture at large to Be Thankful.

How does one Be Thankful? There’s the usual rote listing of every good thing we can think of. Doing that is kind of a Thanksgiving Must, along with making hand-print turkeys and paper bag “deerskin” vests.

November 2010 012

It’s great to recognize our blessings, which we usually (and rightfully) consider the good things in life, but there is so much more to it than that.

We must go deeper.

I am grateful that I have a house. I’m very glad I have a car. The blessings my four children bring are immeasurable. I have a wonderful husband and loyal, thoughtful friends. So many good things. But do I remember this everyday? When everyone is puking while Tito is out of town am I still thankful? When I am having a bad day with my low iron and thyroid struggles and can barely get out of bed, much less facilitate a homeschool day and make sure everyone’s needs are met, is there still a blessing in there somewhere? Am I still thankful? Do I look for blessings everyday? Do I still see the good and beautiful when I am suffering?

I think to truly Be Thankful, we must learn to see blessings in all things, even the not-so-good and downright bad. Some call it changing your perspective. Others call it finding the silver lining.

It may seem trite and Pollyanna-ish, but it’s true. The more I try it, the more it really changes my outlook, my day, my week. It really trickles over into everything.

I have a sticky note on my fridge, where I will see it frequently, on which is a written a quote from Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts Devotional (afflink). It says, “Today, turn me from seeing burdens to seeking beauty.”

Think about that.

Seeking out the beauty, the blessings, changes everything.

Attitude matters.

DSC03870“Today, turn me from seeing burdens to seeking beauty.”

It’s become a mantra of sorts for me.

Finally, as I reflect on thankfulness, I realize that as I changed my attitude, as I learned to seek beauty rather than to see burdens, I became full. Because I am full of thanks, my fears lessened. I am able to give more freely.

Being Thankful leads to Thanksgiving.

“Everything received with gratitude, everything passed on with grace.” G.K. Chesterton

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what he is sending us everyday in His goodness.” St. Gianna Molla

“Today, turn me from seeing burdens to seeking beauty.” Ann Voskamp

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of all the virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Cicero

“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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