How Thanksgiving Became A Verb For Me

How Thanksgiving Became A Verb For Me

For ten years we were blessed to have our extended family living nearby. We all looked forward to holidays with a houseful of people we loved. Prior to the day, my sister-in-law and I would plan menus and look for new recipes. She is a fabulous cook, so inevitably all the food turned out to be delicious! We planned a beautiful table with our best china and enjoyed three generations sitting around it. Afterwards we would nap, play games or watch sports.
But then a job change caused our family to move a thousand miles away. Holidays were no longer the same and I grieved. I love fall and all the accompanying foods and flavors. (I heard of an auto shop offering “Pumpkin spice oil changes”:-)  I enjoy football season, kids coming home from college, and hiking in cool crisp weather. I was particularly sad around Thanksgiving as that is my favorite holiday.
I had turned Thanksgiving into an event, not an activity. I focused on what I had lost and how sad I felt. I believed that nothing would ever be the same and I could never again enjoy that holiday.
Eventually I became an angry, unloving woman. I was consumed with self-pity and focused on all things negative. I wondered why God wasn’t intervening in my many hard circumstances; why had he taken our relatives so far away? Why wouldn’t he heal my sister, who was dying from cancer?  I suffered from an inattentive husband and ungrateful, sassy children. No one at my workplace appreciated me and some friends were distancing themselves.
And then the Lord started doing His work in my heart. I was griping about everything one day when a kind friend said to me, “It’s you. You are bitter.”
While that was difficult to hear, it was the beginning of repentance and transformation and a new walk with the Lord. And part of that journey from bitterness to joy involved putting on the transformed mind as described in Romans 12:2. Of course, it is a process, but the main things I focused on were:
  • Believing Truth. The enemy is a liar and wants to destroy us. Many of the thoughts I dwelled on were not of God, and not truth from His Word. We must fill our minds with truth (Philippians 4:8) and take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  • Focusing on Others. We must live outwardly, not selfishly (Philippians 2:3-4). We are called to love others after loving Jesus first. Self-pity is putting myself on the throne, not Christ.
  • Being Thankful.  We are told throughout scripture to be thankful to the Lord for His goodness to us, in fact we’re told to give thanks in every circumstance (I Thessalonians 5:18.)
Philippians 3:1 says that as we rejoice, it will be a safeguard for us. A safeguard against what? Against self pity, negative thinking, and bitterness. Thanksgiving is the path to joy!
As our gracious Lord has worked in me over the past years, I have worked to develop a grateful spirit.  I’m so thankful for the many fond memories of holidays past, but I’m also determined to be thankful in whatever circumstances I find myself today. We now fill our house on holidays with dear friends and whoever needs a place at the table. It may not look the same as in years past, but our holidays are rich and full as we seek to love and bless others.
The Holy Spirit is alive and active and has given me the fruit of joy, along with the qualities listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Thanksgiving is now a verb in my vocabulary, not merely a noun or an event.
I’m not the same person I was at those long-ago holidays. And I’m so thankful for that!
Linda Graf About Linda Graf

Linda Graf is the author of  Bitter Truth: My Story of Bitterness, Grace and Repentance. She wrote the book after the Lord freed her for a lifestyle of bitterness and anger. She is a musician, a mentor and mother. Being an author was never one of her aspirations, but during her journey from bitterness to joy in Christ, she was compelled to write about it. Check out her website where she blogs regularly.

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