Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Thankful Heart

I used to work for a company that was owned and about 85% staffed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. JW’s do not celebrate any holidays or birthdays, considering it to be a form of idolatry. We of “other ways” were permitted to take the day off without getting any grief about it, but we weren’t paid for the holidays we took. As an inquisitive casual Christian, I once asked one of my coworkers why they didn’t observe Thanksgiving, being that it was a day of prayer and thankfulness. He told me, “Because WE are thankful EVERY day.”

Frankly, I found that response very annoying in its condescension.

It’s been probably 12 years since I had this brief conversation, but I think back on it every year. As time goes by, regardless of the fact that it generated from the teachings of a doctrine with which I personally do not agree, its simple stand-alone truth has come into a better understood light. With so much to be thankful for, it is indeed a shame that most people are only thankful for what we have in flitting afterthoughts, if at all - and only pause to more deeply reflect and appreciate during holidays set aside for such.

It’s no doubt been at times a rough year in my little world. Among other things, I’ve buried two of the most dear and loving people I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing life and times with, and at times I still reel from missing them so. Especially with one who died too young, naturally I wonder why these things happen. But, they do. I can’t let the bad situations bog me down. I focus on how much joy was brought into my life for simply knowing them. How they had made me a significantly better person. The valuable lessons they taught me about family, friendship, perseverance and love. Yes, I must let them go, and with great reluctance – but I am so thankful for having known them. And I am thankful they are now free from their troubles and in God’s hands.

But while grieving is vital, it's important that it not become a "career". The sadness of those losses aside, I remember that I have a wonderful and loving husband who makes me smile every day. We have the most marvelously incredible little boy who teaches us daily new joys of life. We have a sweet and gentle dog that is a model of unconditional love for us. We are all healthy and sound and to top it off were fortunate enough to have been born in the United States, land of Liberty. Though my family is scattered, they are good and strong people who have shown me what it means to lead by example. I have friends that are true treasures. I have a “dream home” on some beautiful country land and my husband and I have jobs that we not only love but allow us to provide for our family while also enjoying some finer things.

All in all a rather typical, one might even say stereotypical, list of items for which to be thankful. But they are so worthy!

Indeed every year brings its bounty of highs and lows – found treasures and losses. Sometimes the lows get to me, and seem to stick with me longer than the highs. I often catch myself getting into modes of being sad, stressed and/or cross. For what reason? What burdens are so heavy that I can’t find joy in the many blessings in my life? Yes, I’m constantly scrambling, perpetually fretting, often stressing, and always chasing after someone or something. But this means my life is full of others with which I share love and happiness. And that truly is the biggest blessing.

It’s easy to get caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves or allowing our hearts to harden, proclaiming we have no one to thank for our life and accomplishments but ourselves. But as I grow older, watch the world grow and evolve around me, I begin to understand what my coworker was saying at the heart of it. It’s a fulfilling thing to gather with friends and family on marked holidays of Thanks, but true thankfulness carries on and flows freely every day of the year. This Thanksgiving, as we hurry around the state and visit with relatives, cope with screeching herds of kids, and I hug my husband and pick birthday cake out of Incrediboy’s hair, I’ll be opening myself to the Lord to teach me how to have a more gracious and thankful heart on a daily basis – for ALL my blessings - because I am so very blessed, it should be no other way.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!


Bainwen Gilrana said...

There are many blessings, even in places we don't expect them. Joy is everywhere. And if some people only think of this once a year, at least that's something. But how much better it is to think of them everyday. :-)

Michelle said...

You've always been strong sister. I admire you on so many levels. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! XO

Martie said...

Thanks for reminding us of the fact that no matter how heavy our hearts at any given time, we still are blessed. Much love to all of you this Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday to Incrediboy! XOXOXO

Nicole said...

Very well said Clew!

My thoughts have echoed yours recently...I just couldn't have put them to words so eloquently. Thank you.

One of my dearest friend is a Jehovah's Witness. And while at times it is hard to understand the reasoning of some of her beliefs, the one simple truth she lives by does ring thankful & celebrate life every day.

P.S. Happy Birthday to Incrediboy!

Rebecca said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you too Clew.
Hugs, and send a hug to Incrediboy from me.... :)

Lori said...

Wishing you many more blessings, dear clew, every day of every year! And a Happy Birthday to the little guy, too.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Clew for stopping by my blog and I hope that you have a great holiday season.

bigwhitehat said...

Clew God doesn't need your thanks. He wants you to be thankful for your own good. The only way to get through times like you have had is to keep a spirit of thanksgiving. It keeps your crosshairs on the target. Echo and I love you and pray for you. You keep being thankful.

Twisted Cinderella said...

Very well said! It is amazing how having a child can really change your viewpoint on some things.

Harry Yak said...

i hope your thanksgiving was full of joy, happiness, and pumpkin pie (i love pumpkin pie). once again you have written something very moving. you touch more people than you think. i also feel like people (myself included) can lose track of what life should be about and forget to be thankful on a daily basis. thanks for putting it so beautifuly.

Cheryl said...

Thank you, Clew! I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for people like you, who write touching and true things like this, to help remind me that there is indeed so much in life to celebrate.

Seabiscuit said...

I can be such a cry baby sometimes. I should be more thankful. I have my moments when I'm thankful. But, there are times that I'm all caught up in my own little pity party. :)