In the United States, November is really a month set apart as a time of thanksgiving. The Webster dictionary defines the word thanksgiving as "a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, specially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities, or in the ordinary dispensation of his bounties." Sadly, I think that many of us have begun to lose sight of the very definition of what the act of thanksgiving is.
Since the beginning of November, I have begun noticing some social media posts that include hashtags such as #givingthanks, #thankful, #blessed. Many of these posts are in response to "thankful challenges" that have been floating around for a while. I know that more and more of these posts will begin to surface as we near Thanksgiving day.
I'm not saying that this is bad. I think it's great, really. Finding things to be thankful for daily is important. These challenges can actually help teach us to even find small things to be thankful for. There are also studies that show that an attitude of thankfulness is good for overall health and wellbeing too. However, in all the time that people spend finding things to be thankful for, and then sharing them on their social media sites, they tend to forget to actually thank God. Doesn't that kind of defeat the point then? Yeah, it's good to have a spirit of thanksgiving, but it's better to properly express it. God doesn't care if you announce to your thankfulness for the world wide web to see. He wants to have you come to Him and thank Him personally.
Think of it this way. What if you gave a gift or did something for someone you really cared about and their response was to tweet their thanks? Yeah, you would know that they are thankful, but wouldn't it mean so much more if they came to you in person and actually genuinely thanked you? You probably don't need to be thanked properly, but that respect and acknowledgement is still something that you likely expect in return. It's the same idea with God. He doesn't need our thanks, but if we love Him and have a relationship with Him, then we should respect and honor Him enough to give thanks where thanks is due.
I'm not perfect, and I am working on this too. I have actually been really convicted of this matter this week, and I thought I would share these thoughts with all of you too. So, here is what I'm going to do about it. I'm personally challenging myself to thank God for at least one thing every single day. On top of being thankful for the obvious things, I'm working on finding God's hand in my difficult situations to thank Him too. I am writing all of these thankful items down in a journal. This way, on days that I am struggling to be thankful, I can look back and see God's hand in my life. I don't have a time frame for this challenge. Just like exercise and healthy eating is a lifestyle, I am learning to see being thankful as a lifestyle as well.
I have also noticed, that I tend to not thank others enough either. Yes, I have always made a point of thanking a bagger for taking my groceries out to my car, or a stranger who holds a door open for me. But I've realized that I don't thank my family and friends enough. I have been taking them for granted. I want my husband to know that I acknowledge how hard he works and that I am thankful for it. My parents and grandparents don't hear often enough that I am thankful for all their prayer and support. My siblings aren't aware of how thankful I am that we are so close and that I can go to them whenever I need a good mood booster. And I haven't thanked my friends enough for all the little things. This is something that I fully plan on rectifying. In the media age, I think that it is so important that we still make the effort to make personal contact with those in our lives and really express our love and thankfulness.
I invite you to join me in this challenge of thankfulness. It doesn't need to be a grand public expression of thanks. Rather, I encourage that you look within yourself and really focus on these things that you are thankful and give thanks where thanks is due.