I love writing during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas because they offer a chance to move current issues and events to the back burner and discuss truly important things like faith, family and friends.
But, Thanksgiving Day has always been a tough holiday for me to embrace. It isn't that I don't have a lot to be thankful for; in fact, I don't think most of us understand how blessed we are just by having been born in America.
And while I certainly have felt from time to time that I’ve had my fair share of problems, and even stress, my problems have been so trivial relative to those of others I know and read about that it’s almost absurd that I even consider them as such.
I have great parents who loved and supported me, as well as good friends and mentors along the way. I've been blessed with reasonable intelligence and outstanding health. And yet, those are minor blessings when one contemplates one's kids and family.
Growing up I absolutely loved a verse that I interpreted as "God won’t give you more than you can handle." The thought is so ingrained in me that there have been times when in counting all my blessings I was forced to ponder whether God thought I was capable of much at all; after all, I really haven't had to deal with any challenges that significant, thus far at least.
Recently, however, I looked up that verse (1 Corinthians 10:13) and was surprised it didn’t actually say what I thought it did. It actually says God won’t let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. It doesn't say we won't get stressed out, challenged beyond our ability, or pushed beyond our own endurance. In fact, the Bible is replete with instances where God allowed such things to happen; the story of Job comes to mind. And it’s at those times that we can rely upon His strength, and when we realize just how much we have to be thankful for.
Nonetheless, Thanksgiving is difficult for me. It’s not to say I don’t want more, or that I don’t struggle with being satisfied and thankful for what I have and have been given.
But, striving for more or striving to be better is, of course, essential if one wishes to express his or her full potential. It’s probably the one mission that we all have in life. At the same time, if we’re solely focused on a better future, we can forget to live in the present.
Thankfulness is being able to cherish past memories, live with joy, and still be passionate about a better future. I'm sure Biblical scholars would cringe but in many ways it describes some of the basic tenets of my faith:
- Accept and be thankful for what you have been given and could never earn.
- Live your life in the right way and with joy living in the moment.
- Focus on what’s truly important, never forgetting the greater goal and where you’re truly heading.
And, I'm not going to ride back home until I just can't fight the feeling to get back and hug my kids and kiss my wife. Then, for at least the rest of that day anyway, I'm going to try and keep that feeling of thankfulness. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday and that your ride is as short and sweet as I expect mine to be.
And, by the way, when you sit down to enjoy your celebration tomorrow, be sure to give some thought and offer some prayers to our men and women in uniform, many of whom are away from their loved ones for the holidays. In large measure, it is these heroic folks who have made it all possible.