For some readers this blog is a little early, for others it’s a little late, so let’s just split the difference and say the timing is perfect! My American friends and family must find my post about six weeks too early. My fellow Canadians would say this post is one day late. To my American readers, we in Canada celebrate Thanksgiving early because the growing season is shorter and therefore the harvest is earlier. Because I am recovering from my Thanksgiving food fest I thought I would repost this blog.
What do you smell?
For those who have been long time church attendees, Thanksgiving Sunday seems to be the day we are reminded that we complain too much and are not thankful enough. Often this topic is addressed as if life can only be lived complaining or being thankful and if you are a follower of Christ you know which one you are supposed to do.
There are times I need to stop and smell the roses. I need to take the time to recognize that I am truly blessed and have so much to be thankful for.
There are also times I need to stop smelling the rose fertilizer! Life often stinks, and it won’t smell any better if all I do is focus on what smells.
The problem is not in the observation of life’s problems or even talking about how they affect me, the problem is when life is viewed and communicated as if there is only stinky fertilizer and no roses.
There are lots of things I am not thankful for.
Saturday is needle day. I have no fears of needles and no phobia about giving myself an injection. The pain is worse than a regular needle but bearable because it only lasts a short time. Still, I can say without hesitation, I am not thankful for needle day.
I do not like taking time out of my day, and more recently my sleep (getting older isn’t as fun as I thought it would be) to remove liquid from my body. Trips to the restroom are both time-consuming and now sleep interrupting; I am not thankful for this.
I do not like the migration of hair that has started to take place. I am living proof that hair is neither created nor destroyed, it just moves from my head to other parts of my body; I am not thankful for this.
There is nothing wrong with seeing life for what it is.
I see no issue with admitting I don’t like the pain of my needles. The extra trips to the restroom, as much as I like to travel, are not something I will try to make sound wonderful. I am not going to pretend that being able to grow hair in my ears better than on my head doesn’t make me a little upset. I am not thankful for these things. I am even comfortable saying that sharing my displeasure (complaining) here and there about the things that I am not particularly thankful for would not be unwarranted, but I must remember that living life as if the things I don’t like are all there is, is wrong.
Because of my needles my immune system is controlled and my joints are no longer being destroyed, I am thankful for this. Because of my regular trips to the restroom I am not suffering from a system that poisons itself, I am thankful for this. Because my hair is migrating I can… no matter how hard I try to see the positive, I am still not thankful for this.
No one likes a complainer but most people don’t mind hearing a complaint.
If all you do is spread the stench of your life’s fertilizer you will be very alone, no one wants to hear complaint after complaint. If all you do is show off your roses you may end up just as alone, no one wants to hear that your life is trouble free because no one wants to be lied to. To paint a picture that life is all roses without any fertilizer or that life is all fertilizer without any roses tells me that you misunderstand the role of being thankful in the life of a Christ follower.
Thankfulness is a lens to see life’s problems through not a filter that makes them go away.
Maybe you need to complain less. Maybe you need to be more thankful. The balance between displeasure and thankfulness is key to your outlook on life. Notice I said balance. Thankfulness is not the replacement for discontentment but rather the recognition that there is more than just the current struggle.
The thing(s) we do not like, the thing(s) that need to change must be communicated in light of the many things we would never want to change when we share with our friends and when we share with our God.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7(NIV)