I breathed a tiny sigh of relief when I heard that there would be no group sharing of thanks around the Thanksgiving table this year. And it’s not the first time my heart has stirred that way, but this year, I wondered why?
And I pondered my heart sad and skeptical at the same time. I discovered that the distaste is because I so often have sat listened to people give thanks to Someone they don’t believe in, to a God they ignore the rest of the year, or to no one at all…just thanking the air. And at times, even as those who call on His name pour out their thanks, my mind screams, “Hypocrisy!”
And the hypocrisy my mind points out isn’t just that of others…it’s my own hypocrisy my mind is calling out. So often, during the public giving of thanks, my mind just plays a highlight reel of the gap between what I am saying and what I live.
If I was truly thankful for my husband would I have criticized what he said earlier?
If I was truly thankful for my job would I spend so many hours worrying over each student and paycheck?
If I was truly thankful for my family would I argue and criticize and justify and do everything possible to make them how I want them to be before I love them?
And there’s nothing wrong with planning out our lives and being good stewards, but there is a line that can be crossed of trying to control what isn’t ours to control…of manipulating and bossing instead of loving and praying and trusting.
And as my heart glows warm with emotion and my mind screams logic I know that there must be a way to live the thanks…not just to glow hot with sentiment after the fact. I know that somehow, the change lies in the giving over of control.
Because thanks recognizes the gift.
Because thanks recognizes the control of the Giver.
You can never simultaneously live a thankful life and refuse to lay down control of your life. In the giving of thanks you must recognize that the gift was never in your control anyways…it was simply that, a gift. A grace dropped from heaven for the pure intention of showing His overwhelming love for you.
And we try to live a life of thanks, but we squeeze that thanks into the neat and tidy corners of our lives where we think it belongs, controlling even the giving of our thanks. And some where in there we’re missing the point.
In an attempt to control our lives, we push out any opportunity for thanks, because we can’t recognize that anything we have was given. We want to take credit for the good fruit in our lives. And we wonder why our lives are full of the anxious and the crazy, but we won’t let go long enough to see that the crazy is of our own making.
Because no rejoicing that comes from our own manipulations will ever satisfy. But the rejoicing that comes from gratefulness for a gift of love can never be taken.
So let’s live and give thanks this Christmas season by recognizing the sovereignty of the Giver. And when we allow Him to move in and through us as He desires, the results will be so much greater than the results of our feeble strivings. In the giving of thanks, let’s recognize that we are truly giving the control and the credit to the One to whom it truly belongs.