No reason to stop being thankful now that Thanksgiving is over
On the day before Thanksgiving, there was a front-page story that may have gone unnoticed amidst the flurry of baking pumpkin pie, planning a Black Friday shopping trip or trying to find a copy of Arlo Guthrie’s epic Thanksgiving song, Alice’s Restaurant, to play for guests on turkey day.
Since my sister-in-law baked the pies, I wasn’t interested in guerilla shopping and I completely forgot about poor old Arlo and Alice, I had plenty of time to read the paper. The story (remember the story? I’m talking about a newspaper story) detailed the research done by psychologists on the subject of thankfulness, who all spent lots of time and money to discover that being thankful is healthy.
Wow, now that’s a shocker. Who knew? That’s right up there with other research done by modern psychologists that shows that forgiveness benefits the one who forgives far more than it does the one who has been forgiven.
I tell you, these research psychologists are visionaries, men and women who see beyond popular thinking and boldly go where no one has gone before.
Except for Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul and the masses who have memorized their words and tried to do what they say.
The memorization part is easy for me. It’s the doing what they say that gets a little hard. OK, it gets a lotta hard, event though it sounds so deceptively simple.
Jesus said to forgive if you want to be forgiven. Easy peasy, right?
I’m taking this insanely ridiculous class at the gym and the instructor was intent on making us pay ahead of time for the Thanksgiving feast we were sure to eat. We climbed stairs, we did lunges, we climbed more stairs, we did more lunges and climbed still more stairs. She delighted in telling us how many calories were in pumpkin pie and how much sweat we’d have to produce in order to burn those calories.
I was still so sore on Thanksgiving that it hurt to lower myself into the chair. Rest assured, I endured the pain, lowered myself into the chair and consumed plenty of pumpkin, apple and cherry pie.
Although both my gluteus maximus and my gluteus medium screamed at me all day, whining and complaining about what a malevolent monster the class instructor is, I know she was simply doing her job. She’s a perfectly lovely human being, and it was easy to forgive her, even when the simple act of putting on my pants made me cry.
Forgiveness is so much harder when we’re wounded so deep it seems as if the world will never be right again. But it’s necessary, not for the benefit of the one who wounded us, but for our own health. Amazing how God told us that more than 2,000 years ago but modern psychology is just starting to figure it out.
Here’s a good one. Paul wrote these simple instructions to the church in Thessalonica: “Rejoice always, pray constantly and give thanks in all circumstances…”
Doesn’t it sound simple? Isn’t it impossible to actually do?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel like rejoicing, the only thing I can manage to do constantly is breathe and I certainly don’t feel like giving thanks in all circumstances.
I’ve worked at the Sentinel long enough to qualify for three weeks of vacation a year. Woo hoo! When our boys were young and at home, I always planned out incredibly cool family vacations. We took them camping all over Washington State, we went to Costa Rica, we spent a week on a houseboat on Lake Shuswap in British Columbia.
You know where I went last year with my precious three weeks? I drove to New Braunfels, Texas in January with my husband and to Gering, Neb. in October by myself. Driving across the barren wasteland of west Texas in January did not naturally bring rejoicing to my heart, nor did I want to give thanks for the cloudy, gray weather I experienced while driving the lonely stretch of road between Kimball, Neb. and Fort Morgan, Colo.
As the holiday season gets underway, however, I will do my best to give thanks in all circumstances, even when I continually find myself in the slow-moving line or discover that I don’t have enough wrapping paper at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Why? Well, it’s nice to know that modern research backs up what God’s been trying to tell us for thousands of years, but I think I’ll do it on his say-so alone. Perhaps the creator really does know what’s best for those he created.