At the risk of sounding completely ogre-like…by this time in November, is anyone else a little tired of the grateful heart campaign? I mean, how many Facebook hashtags have you seen while scrolling through today with the same theme: #31daysofthanks #attitudeofgratitude and the classic #blessed. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against being thankful, but I also want us to be honest with ourselves – are we being thankful because it’s the cool thing to do in November, or because that’s truly where we want our hearts to be? And – do we need to hashtag and social medialize it? (truly asking this question)
A couple weeks ago, my sons found an old book on our shelf, one leftover from my childhood: Precious Moments, Through the Year Stories. We opened up the well-loved hardback and flipped to the “November” section. One of the poems has stuck with me. It begins:
I heard Mom say as she scrubbed today,
I’m thankful for brushes and brooms
I’m glad to clean my cozy house
That’s filled with cheerful rooms
After we finished reading, I put the kids in bed and started to write the rough draft for my blog post this month. I wanted to write about having a grateful heart and for the hidden blessings for which I struggle to be grateful, just like in the poem… for messy rooms and dirty dishes. For laundry and tired eyes. Although some days I am grateful for these, my words still felt disjointed and a little #blessed, trying tooto hard to be thematic for the month of November.
And that’s when I remembered the last stanza of the Precious Moments poem:
I heard mom say in her prayers tonight
I’m thankful for problems today
If life never got a little bit rough
I might forget to pray
I don’t know who this person’s mom is, but I want her to be my mentor. Because if I’m honest? My attitude is what keeps me from attaining a grateful heart. Many days I’m a whining, crabby mess. I want life to be comfortable, I don’t want to clean up messes, and I definitely don’t want to be grateful for difficulty (even when my perceived difficulties have nothing on true suffering). I want to do the photo challenge and take pictures of my messy dishes, and post about how I’m blessed to wash them, but knowing me, I’ll probably try to make sure it’s only the dishes that match, from meals where we ate the recommended servings of vegetables and a non-processed-food main course (with dessert of course, because I’m not a savage)…
Sound ridiculous? I agree.
Despite our plethora of blessings, this has been a difficult season for our family, both mentally and physically, and I’m super good at feeling sorry for myself on the days when I just can’t hold it together.
So, I got up off the couch, poured myself a big glass of buttery chardonnay and decided to try again…to list out some of the heart attitudes that I need to lift to God:
That sleep deprivation and my own unrealistic expectations are simultaneously a nasty combination and a lousy excuse for trying to keep my temper in check.
That no matter what I tell myself about the miracle of birth I still look in the mirror, step on the scale, and attempt to try on clothes that I know aren’t going to fit and worry that I’ll never “get back” to a “good weight”
That my desire to be known and loved sometimes feeds the demons’ attacks on my heart.
I’m not thankful for my sin, that’s for certain. I know that the Bible never excuses my sin. But there’s a very real spiritual battle occurring at this moment, as angels fight demons (see 2 Kings 6).
So what does this mean in the context of giving thanks?
Well, I’m thankful for a church that confesses our sinful hearts and belief in our Savior together regularly. I’m thankful for fellow believers who hear my struggle and, instead of judging, say “me, too sister” as we bond together to fight against the pull of evil. I’m thankful for the knowledge that this world and its depression, anxiety, negative comparison, hurt, anguish and sorrow are not the end.
I’m thankful for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who overcame sin, death, and the devil to bring us new life so that we can Raise a Hallelujah in the presence of our enemies.
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name make known among the nations what he has done
Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. (1 Chronicles)
I love how when you take pictures in our church that the image of Jesus, arms outstretched, presides over those gathered together.