All it takes is a scroll through Instagram or Facebook to see the happy, plaid-dressed families, neatly carved turkeys, a motivational quote or Bible verse to accompany. It's kickball at the park, morning bike rides, and watching the bands parade New York. We have a cookie cutter picture of Thanksgiving but life doesn't always respect our idols and images. Instead it twists and swells and warps and feels a lot messier than we'd ever show on Instagram.
So what about when there's a knot in my stomach, an ache in my heart this Thanksgiving and I can't leave it behind when I come to the table. I can't ignore the real life that is every other day of the year. What about when I don't feel like giving thanks?
This last year, it's felt like one step forward, ten steps back. And frustration comes a whole lot more naturally than thankfulness. So with heart strained, I sat down to read through all Philippians, to read Paul's themes of joy in laying down all, of hope and sweet contentment in the process.
...And I am sure that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ...Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior...so I count it all as rubbish compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...that I may know Christ!...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation...I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me...Rejoice in the Lord always...Whatever is true--think about such things...Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal...
He had to have been speaking straight to me! They're the anthems of my year, this chapter of life, each lesson and abbreviated journey hinging on the message of hope. I get it. Life has all sorts of seasons and some of them leave you singing, others on your knees. But don't you see--gratitude can come packaged in either posture. There's no one-size fits all on the giving of thanks. And so maybe life does find me in a harsher place than last year, but in a way, doesn't that make this grace we speak of all the sweeter?
I know who leads me--is that not enough? And if I know Him, I know that there's no step backward with God. All is progress forward. And if I look, I can see it--promises kept.
So that's why I give thanks when I don't feel like giving thanks. Because gratitude doesn't deny what's broken and maimed, a little less picture-perfect than the next. It doesn't mask--it transforms.