Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanks to God

For entirely too many years, I had no idea what it meant to be thankful. "Be thankful for what you have!" - a directive that implied it was as easy to be thankful as flipping a switch, or maybe it was simply a matter of changing your mind. I would do the best I could to will myself to have an "attitude of gratitude". It was short-lived. Rinse. Repeat. It felt as if I had an obligation to be thankful. How could a feeling of obligation ever really bring a feeling of thankfulness? Looking back, I have no idea how I believed that was possible, but I kept trying.

I often noticed a lot of the things I didn't have. I was also worried that what I did have would be taken away. Perhaps I would lose things if I didn't behave a certain way. Perhaps I would lose them simply by chance. Perhaps I never received the things I wanted because I wasn't behaving a certain way or maybe God just didn't want me to have them. I had no idea what was going on, but I was pretty certain it was all about me. Strangely, it was all about me, but not in the way I had imagined.

What I didn't understand was that it took more than just changing my mind or my attitude. What I now know is that I could only truly understand being thankful with help. That help came from Jesus.

I've had people ask about proof of the existence of Jesus and/or God. Of course, I cannot provide the rigid, almost mathematical, proof I assume they want. I've heard people say that their proof of Jesus comes from the change that occurs in them when they ask Jesus for help.  This proof might not be concrete enough for some, but the truth is that most people are not capable of making a change deep within their core. We might like to think they can, but experience shows otherwise.

One of the biggest changes I experienced was being able to feel thankful. Instead of worrying or fearing loss, a good portion of my day I feel like I have everything I could ask for. My life has certainly changed over the years, but it hasn't been so drastic that I went from nothing to everything. It feels that way, though. Sometimes doubt creeps back in, and I wonder if I lost all that I have whether I'd still feel thankful as often as I do. More often than not, that brings to mind Paul's words while sitting in prison, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4. He never said rejoice in things you have. He said rejoice in the Lord.

I have many reasons to be thankful, but without the capacity to feel thankful, that would all mean very little. That is not something I gave myself or taught myself because I had no clue how to do that. This Thanksgiving, more than anything, I'm thankful for feeling thankful. Thanks to God!