Grumpy hateful or humble grateful
It’s Thanksgiving dinner. You look around the table and see, once again, your beloved, dysfunctional family. While you would like to imagine that you and your family are the perfect, loving family, around this turkey is a spicy mix of selfishness, negativism, pride, and a pinch of bitterness. I offer you some hope in saying that you are not special. All of us come to the table of plenty with a mixture of messy personalities. The slogan “We put the fun is dysfunction” is never more apparent than when we gather to celebrate this autumn feast. But the secret to recovery is right in front of our nose: we have gathered to give thanks, and it is this attitude of gratitude that can change these things and begin to transform our lives.
All of us operate on one of four steps of gratitude: the lowest step holds people who constantly gripe. They prefer to be grumpy hateful instead of humbly grateful. The next step is those folks who aren’t complainers, but never say thank you for anything.
Step three is where the thank you is said, but is mostly about the obvious stuff when life is good. The highest step holds people who “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5: 18). This highest step is where the air is charged with grace.
So, what can we do to get to that life changing gratitude? First , we must realize that all is gift and comes directly from God. It isn’t luck or hard work as much as it is God blessing us with the skill and talent to achieve our blessings. Then, it is important to follow the advice of the psalmist (Psalm 68:19): “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Selah.” We can’t give thanks just on Thanksgiving Day. We must live every day grounded in gratitude, because God is a “daily” kind of giver. Every prayer we say should be flavored with gratitude.
After we start thinking like a grateful soul, we should see everything, good or bad, as a place to give thanks. In the spiritual realm, Jesus is with us and constantly wants to be noticed and appreciated. Our praise and thanksgiving should be lifted up especially at the Eucharist.
However, we cannot overlook those simple things: a glass of clean water, good times with dear friends, sunrise with a cup of coffee…. Then, we turn to those tough thank you prayers, those pains and sorrow, heartaches and suffering. Romans 8:28 gives us an idea of reason, “ All things work together for good..” Paul, during his time in prison, points out that even the tough events will bring good. While the thing in itself is not good, God will bring good through the pain.
If we choose to live in that fourth step, we must cultivate these attitudes.
No matter how difficult or mysterious our life gets, there is something to be grateful for. Even when we do not feel like it, we should speak the words anyway. This is the leap of faith. Nothing shows our faith more than in those moments when we reach out to God in gratitude when we cannot fathom why things are so tough.
No matter if you are in prison like Paul or sitting at your Thanksgiving table, you can praise God. When we let go of self pity, bitterness, ungratefulness, fear and negativity everything changes for the better. As you pass the stuffing this year to your in-laws, stop in your tracks and look around you….and be thankful, so very thankful.