With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I’m thinking on things I’m thankful for as I journey through my week. That’s a bit contrary to what my normal bent is – I tend to want to focus on what’s wrong with my little world but I’m learning that a thankful heart opens doors to learning new and wonderful things about myself. As Sarah Young says…”it takes the sting out of adversity”….and it “opens your heart to God’s presence and your mind to God’s thoughts.” Now that’s the place I want to be.
I wasn’t brought up in a home that communicated thankfulness, or the importance of family or relationship. It was more focused on performance and success, so I had to learn those things by watching other positive examples in my life. So to think on things I’m grateful for is something I have to practice intentionally now. I’m not always great at it. But just like the practice of occupying my mind with things to be thankful for helps my negative thoughts weaken and the positive to flow more richly….the same goes for appreciating the people around my table this Thanksgiving.
My friend Sara is such a great encourager. She is at least 20 years younger than me, completely opposite from me on the personality charts, has 2 small children and is always such a shining example to me of what a kind word can do for someone’s heart. She once gave me a note that said “Three Things I Love About You” on it…and then she listed some lofty and sometimes undeserving words about me. They were….
- You always make people feel welcome. Just your smile and enthusiasm make people feel loved. (OK…I’ll give her that)
- You are honest. There is nothing about you that is false or fake. You don’t try to be someone you are not. (After a brief period of my life where most of it was a lie…I decided to try another route. It’s not always what people love about me – what you see is what you get.)
- You really want to serve. You seek ways to care for people and to engage with others. It is not a surface “how can I make this easy for me ” attitude. It is a “how can I extend myself for others” attitude. (I’m not sure we’re talking about the same person, but I’ll take it!)
As I was maneuvering my way through motherhood I pride-fully thought that I was a pretty awesome mom when my kids were small. It wasn’t until Sara told me that she tries to tell her kids every day three things that she loves about them that I thought…OUCH…gee, I could have done so much better. God loves to shoot holes in my pride now and then. Can you imagine how different our world would be if we all practiced telling our friends and family members three things we love about them every day? Or even every week? Even if we ‘d rather hammer them with the ugly stuff? Now that’s grace.
Maybe as you sit around the table this Thanksgiving…along with passing the turkey and the giblets you might pass around a few positive thoughts by saying Three Things You Love about everyone around the table. It’s the language of love, and everyone needs a scoopful of that on Thanksgiving. Go ahead…give it a try – and let me know how it goes.