Gratitude and Joy
Thanksgiving is upon us!
The business of the holiday season has started! This time of year, I am filled with so much... stress. I want everything to be perfect. The carmelized onions atop the green bean casserole have to be evenly placed and a cinnamon candle is burning to make my house smell less like my dog. My mom instilled this "need to clean" in me. When I was little, the cleaning involved us taking everything that we played with and/or that needed to get out of the way, up to our rooms so no one would see it. Maybe some of you have the same practice? We would do this faithfully year after year. Then it dawned on me; all of the people coming were our friends and family. Which meant that all of the people that came to our house for Thanksgiving saw it every other time of the year when it was less than clean. They knew the shoes that would pile up by the front door, they knew the toys we kept in the living room, and they knew that our dog came in with muddy paws and left a trail throughout the house. These people love us at our best and worst, so why were we trying to impress them?
Now, there is something to be said about feeling the joy of a clean and tidy house. Maybe you love mopping the flours and your house smelling like Pinesol. But there's a difference between the joy of a clean house and the worry of what others are going to think of you.
Philippians 4:4-6 says, "Always be glad because of the Lord! I will say it again: Be glad. Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here. Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. "
With thankful hearts offer your prayers and requests to God... So instead of stressing, lift your worries to God. Instead of worrying, pray and be glad. This is easier to say than to put into practice. So, I have a mindfulness activity for us.
Let us sit, in a quiet place, or for those who it is hard to find that, play music. Stop thinking about your to-do list for a minute. Sixty seconds of reflecting on the question, "What am I joyful about today?" Maybe your kid's laugh makes you laugh, or maybe your boss told you that you're doing a good job. Maybe you were able to get a passing grade on a difficult test you were taking, or maybe it's as simple as you woke up with another chance to have a good day. What are you joyful about? Take a couple of deep breaths.
It is often difficult to focus on joy. We are surrounded by negatives and the ways of the world are unfair and unkind to many people. So we do what we can to help and to serve. Nevertheless, if we are empty, we can't help fill others. Or if we are filled with stress and displeasure, how can we bring joy to others? So today, let's try to think about joy. Tomorrow, let's try. The next day let's try. We won't be able to do it all the time and that's okay. We can always try again and God will be there.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you have a wonderful day filled with gratitude and joy.
Blessings and Peace,
Intern Pastor Kate