At the time when the fates delegated the Thanksgiving blog to me, I wasn’t in a very thankful state of mind. That’s how I ended up writing this blog during a MRI. Of course, I wasn’t actually typing it out, because giant magnets and computers go together about as well as red wine and wedding dresses, but I had a whole lot of time to get my thoughts together.
Imagine going to a dubstep concert where the DJ has no idea what he’s doing. Now imagine that you’re attending that concert inside of a coffin. There is an IV dangling from your arm, and if you move, you have to start the whole experience over again. To top it off, suppose that you have a hatred of needles (due to a bad incident involving a venomous spider and a Daffy Duck shaped hole punch) and no one warned you about the intrusive IV. Now you’ve got a pretty good idea of where I was at.
Thankfulness doesn’t come naturally. If you don’t believe me, check out the first few chapters of Genesis. Adam and Eve didn’t verbally express their thanks to Creator God, and their actions certainly didn’t reflect any kind of thanksgiving. A thankful heart comes only by choice. It’s wrapped up in our free will. There is always something to be thankful for, assuming you’re willing to acknowledge it. But I’ll warn you—it’s much easier to find all the things you’re not so thankful for.
That’s exactly what I did during the first half of my MRI. In order to distract myself from my misery, I started making a list of all the things I would rather do than be in my present situation: park in the freshman lot for the rest of my DBU career, only be allowed to listen to country music for the rest of my life, and other terrible things like that. Not surprisingly, my mood didn’t improve much, and the minutes until my scan was over didn’t tick by any faster. I wanted to feel the peace and joy that comes with a thankful heart, but I didn’t want to put in the effort to actually be grateful.
But with nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, I figured I might as well swallow my self-pity and find some things to thank God for. I started with the easy stuff.
“Thank you God for not letting me pass out when they put that stupid needle in my arm.”
“Thank you for parents who love me and pay for my medical bills instead of making me take a second job at Taco Bell.”
But as I progressed, it became easier and easier for me to lay claim to my bountiful blessings.
“Thank you for giving me a little brother who is bright, funny, and a joy to watch grow up.”
“Thank you for bringing me to a university that puts your glory above everything else.”
“Thank you for my sweet boyfriend waiting for me in the lobby.”
“Thank you for a job that allows me to minister through my talents.”
I thanked the Lord for everything from cute nail polish to the gift of salvation. My situation didn’t change a bit, but I was no longer drowning in self-pity and negativity. The idea that thankfulness can transform the outlook of a grim situation is not a feel-good lie from the big wigs of Christianity; it works.
Everybody likes to pretend like they actually use the Thanksgiving holiday to count their blessings. But if we’re honest, other than saying grace at the family meal, few of us take the time to list the scores of people and things we are thankful for because gratitude is not voluntary. Thankfulness won’t come to you on its own; you must intentionally go out and get it. Whether this holiday season is the best you’ve ever had or the worst you can possibly imagine, I urge you to find the positives in your life and thank the One who gave them to you.
If you find it difficult to get started, don’t sweat it. You’re going up against your natural tendency toward ingratitude. Thanklessness is natural; thankfulness is hard. Push on anyway. I promise you’ll thank me later.
Written by Savanna