Thankful for what?
Updated: Nov 6, 2018
Thanksgiving is the time of year when many of us pause and take a moment to contemplate what we are grateful and thankful for in our lives.
We look around us and see our families, our homes, our children, and even our pets and we are filled with gratitude. It is both healthy and positive for us to take a moment to think about these things and possibly even verbally express how much the people and the possessions mean to us.
However, I can’t help but feel we are missing something very important that could radically change our perception and understanding of what it means to be grateful.
If we take a moment and look again at all that surrounds us it can be pretty easy to be thankful for all the stuff we like in our lives such as a really awesome big screen TV (those are kind of fun), a magnificent Thanksgiving dinner (so tasty and delicious), or a well behaved child (how nice is that especially when there are visitors in your house).
All of these things are wonderful and they sure make it a lot easier to feel a sense of thankfulness and gratitude when we experience them, but what if we took a moment to reflect upon the events in our lives that have shaped us and formed our character? What really made us who we are today and what continues to shape us into the dad, mom or person we want to be?
When I take a moment to reflect like this, I am surprised what I begin to feel thankful for. I picture difficult moments I experienced as a kid where I was able to persevere and overcome challenging situations. I also see times as a parent when I have really messed up with my kids, apologized, and got to see forgiveness redeem the moment.
I notice instances when my kid’s tantrums and all the other frustrations that are part of parenting children have caused me to view myself and my life differently, which has shaped me into the parent I am today (a much more patient and understanding person than I was 5 years ago).
When we actually take the time to do this kind of reflection, we can begin to reframe our perspective of these moments and see them as catalysts and benchmarks for our own personal growth.
Without these challenges that parenting presents to us, without the conflict we face in journeying with our spouses, we would miss a chance find out what we are really made of. These challenges can be opportunities to overcome obstacles both big and small, which in turn cultivate in us perseverance, endurance, self-confidence, courage, and so much more.
Maybe this Thanksgiving it would be interesting for us individually and as families to reflect on those things that have been challenging and difficult in our lives, those moments we wanted no part of but in hindsight we see through the eyes of gratitude how important those events have been.
Maybe this would help us to see certain family members differently (what a great way to increase my capacity to love and forgive), our children’s tantrum with patience and compassion (what an opportunity to grow as a parent), or a disagreement with our spouse concerning the in laws with understanding (what a chance for us to grow closer together), all these situations could be seen in a new light with a fresh and thankful perspective. I sure love it when everything goes my way but I am thankful it doesn’t because I believe I would become a very entitled and self absorbed person, and when storms come my way, and they will come, I would easily be blown about and broken.
Happy Thanksgiving!!! I hope you enjoy every moment with a heart of gratitude!