Monday, November 14, 2016

THANKSGIVING // let's get it right

i love Thanksgiving. it has become one of my favorite holidays. but in the same way that some people experience seasonal affective disorder when the seasons change, i wake up with a burden on my heart around this time every year. because i want it to be more than just a day on the calendar. i want thanksgiving to be a way of lifei want Thanksgiving Day to be a celebration of a year long attitude of gratitude. i want to get thanksgiving right.

"Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other." -Ann Voskamp

how did we get here? to this day in age, this culture, this mindset of giving thanks just one day or month a year? when it's all about the food and the travel arrangements and the football games and Black Friday deals?

and how do we get there? to the place where giving thanks comes from deep within our hearts? where it is natural and overflowing daily? when it's all about where God has brought us and what He has done for us? what will it take for us to still feel full of gratitude mid January, early April or late June?

the root of gratitude is contentment. contentment activates gratitude. and when my heart is truly content, gratitude comes naturally. the more grateful i'm living, the more content i will be. it's a cycle, and i want on.

contentment takes work, though. it's hard. i have to purposefully choose to BE CONTENT with what i have and where i am, to be truly fulfilled and satisfied, believing that enough is enough. contentment is a decided discipline. it takes a steadfast determination to look around at my surroundings, take inventory of my life, and say wholeheartedly, "i am content." try it. 

we seek temporary contentment in the tangible, outward proof of our greatness: more things, a better job, a new car, a new house, latest electronics, new hobby, more toys, more shoes, more money, more friends, more airline miles, more achievements, more accumulations. we look so good on the outside- but our hearts are restless. we fill our online shopping carts, we look at bigger, newer houses, we buy another lottery ticket, stop by the car lot to look at shiny new cars, buy our kids the latest whatever, take ridiculously extravagant vacations, and Thanksgiving comes but once a year.

we are exhausted and still searching. insatiable. coming up empty. that hole in our hearts seems to be bottomless. we tell ourselves we will be content when we have bigger, better, faster, new and improved, and more, when we find Mr. Right, when we have our baby, when we have a bigger house, when we have a nicer car. then, we will be content. until the next biggest, best thing comes along. we are discontent. the grass is always greener for the person who lives discontent. 

"a grateful person is rich in contentment. 
an ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment." -David A. Bednar

continual contentment has nothing to do with things we acquire or accomplishments we achieve. it has everything to do with believing our joy doesn't come from things or accomplishments. contentment is inward confidence in God's greatness, and that leads to continual gratitude.

we are called by God to be content in any and every circumstance because every circumstance we encounter comes from His providential hand. there is nothing on earth that can satisfy us the way Jesus can. He is everything we need and anything we lack, and that should -all by itself- inspire a continually content and grateful life. discontentment robs us from being aware of God's provision. we have so much, and it's all from God. recognizing our blessings and remembering what God has done in our lives brings true contentment.

"I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. ...I have all I need—and more! And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:11-14, 18-19

are you restless? are you discontent? not sure? here's a little test, try it with me? the next time we buy/do something to satisfy our restless hearts, whether it's a new pair of shoes or a latte or vacation, don't tell anyone. don't take a picture, don't post it on instagram or facebook or snapchat. if we are buying/doing something not for the sake of our contentment, we won't feel the need to tell/show anyone else, rather, we will feel an inclination to give thanks to God. because true contentment isn't boastful or show-offy. Erik Raymond defined contentment as "the inward, quiet spirit that joyfully submits to God's providence."

let's activate our gratitude. it starts with continual contentment. so let's joyfully submit to God's providence. let's take our eyes off of any thing we think might bring us temporary contentment and focus on being thankful for what is already in our hands.

let's get thanksgiving right. let's open our eyes to God's gifts each day- not just this month, not just on November 24, but on every day we wake up with breath. my hope is that giving thanks on the holiday this year will spark something in our hearts that will make us realize the things of this world will never satisfy our deepest needs. let's commit to living content and thankful lives.
"Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be content with what you have." -Hebrews 13:5
"After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content." -1 Timothy 6:7-8 
"You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought." -Matthew 5:5

questions for consideration: (from ThriveMoms)
// what are some things that you WANT right now? looking at these things with an eternal perspective, how do they measure up to what the Lord wants for you?

// what are some things you NEED right now? what are some ways God has already provided for you but you have yet to give thanks for and take hold of them?

// how are some ways God has provided for you in the past? how does this encourage you to trust the Lord for future provision?

recommended resources: 
-Contentment Challenge from Nancy Ray
-Learning Contentment Focus on the Family article
-Six Secrets to Contentment article
-Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World book by Kristen Welch
-One Thousand Gifts book by Ann Voskamp
-2-week Gratitude Challenge from Tiny Prints (pdf file. print, give thanks, and repeat 26x)

happy thanksgiving living, friends!

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