Have you noticed them popping up all over Facebook? Friend after friend notes how many days they are into the month and writes a statement about what they are thankful for each day. It’s the hottest thing since “Farmville” or “Bitstrips”. I even found a Facebook page specifically geared towards the 30 Days of Thanksgiving fad.
Of course, the impetus behind such a movement is to recognize that Thanksgiving is more than just a one-day American feast. However, the intrinsically snarky, sassy, redheaded part of me finds this Facebook trend to be a bit cliche and contrived. Don’t get me wrong — I wouldn’t want any of my sweet, grateful friends to be offended. I know they mean to inspire others and humble themselves by expressing a month of non-stop gratitude. But I can’t help but wonder what this might all look like if it weren’t confined to 30 days.
Recently, I was teaching one of my children that “…a tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) In her struggles with social processing, she was fearful that another child falsely accusing her of some things would be viewed as truthful by others. I tried to assure her that his actions and her actions would each speak much louder than any verbal accusations making their way through the 6th grade.
Is this not also true of “Thanks-Living”? We are known by the fruit of gratitude in our lives. There is something that people see in us that is not present in those who take things for granted or secretly harbor greed. Like a muscle that is regularly exercised, the habit of humble appreciation can be developed over time to a point where it is easily identified by others who come into contact with it.
What are some signs that we have developed a life of Thanks-Living?
- Little things are big things. In other words, small acts of kindness evoke a big response from us. We are not indifferent to the tender gestures of others. We ponder those tiny pleasantries for awhile, reveling in how affirming and loving they are.
- Little things are little things. We don’t get tied up in knots about the small stuff. An oversight by another person does not become a relationship-ender, because we are grateful for the mercy shown us in our slip-ups.
- We pause and praise frequently. Whether it be a school graduation or a crystal clear blue sky, we slow down enough in life to relish these good gifts that God bountifully pours over us.
- We are grateful in-spite-of. This type of gratitude and praise come from a deep sense of satisfaction, knowing that God is enough. There is growth in our lives to a point where we can echo the words of the prophet Habakkuk…
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18, NIV)
- We gain perspective. Despite the many trials we face, we come to understand that there are always others who have far worse trials than our own. Realizing there is poor social acceptance or lack of medical care in 3rd world nations brings us back to a state of humble thanksgiving and contentment with every small blessing.
- Irritability decreases. When our expectations are recalibrated, and we gain a deep sense of the grace and mercy our Maker floods us with each day, that cranky, demanding demeanor tends to get crowded out. Our attitude of thanks-living supercedes the agitation we feel when we don’t receive what we think we are due.
- Our problems shrink. Much akin to the decreasing irritability, our problems seem to lessen when we put them side-by-side with our endless blessings. My children’s special needs can morph from a crisis into an inconvenience when I consider all for which I have to give thanks.
So, how much of this “fruit” is evident in your life? Are you doing the 30 Days of Thanksgiving on Facebook? How about really stretching yourself by developing new habits of thanks-living? When you make that commitment, you will find your life is more full, more blessed than any one day or one month could ever contain.