Thanking the right one
Well, Peaceful Readers, this five-part post grew slowly. I’m sorry for the delay. As it grew, the part about the dream—mentioned at the end of the last post—kept getting pushed to the end. Once we get there, I hope you’ll find that it was worth the wait.
Today, we’ll focus on the impact that thankfulness can have on our lives.
My favorite holiday
For as long as I can remember, my favorite holiday has been Thanksgiving. No gifts. No complications (in theory). Just togetherness and a feast. The best part about Thanksgiving—to me—is the focus on being thankful.
In today’s post, we’ll talk about the connection between thankfulness and the building of our faith. In part 4 of this post, we’ll talk about the connection between thankfulness and the building of our strength.
It may seem strange in a series about sociopaths to address the issue of thankfulness. At first glance, these concepts don’t appear to go together at all—kind of like peanut butter and jelly. But when you put them together—challenges and gratitude—the humble step (i.e., the gratitude) actually builds both the faith and the strength needed to face the challenges.
Strangely wonderful, kind of like peanut butter and jelly.
Sometimes when someone thinks too highly of herself, people will say: “She thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips.” That expression gives me a little chuckle every time.
Seriously, though. Who is all that?
Before we can embrace rightly-oriented thankfulness, we have to acknowledge rightly-oriented leadership or authority. I am not number one. I am not the one who rules. I am not “all that.” I am not perfect. I am not the designer of the universe. I am not the creator. I am not the giver of life. I am not the author of truth. I am not the forgiver of sins. I am not the reconciler of broken, sinful people to their loving, holy creator. God is.
I am a very broken, sinful person desperately in need of my savior, Jesus Christ—the son of God… the one who lived a perfect life, the one who healed people, the one who came to testify to the truth, the one who showed us who God is, the one who forgave people’s sins, the one who sacrificed himself, the one who willingly paid the price for my sins when he was crucified/murdered by being nailed onto a cross, the one who died in my place, the one God rose from the dead on the third day, the one who was seen by many witnesses after he was raised from the dead, the one who ascended into heaven, the one who sits on the throne, the one who is my Lord and Savior—the one who gave me a new life. The One.
If I’m really choosing peace as a way of life, these realities—contentment and happiness—must already be in place.
I’ve found rightly-oriented thankfulness
to be the key to contentment and happiness.
I must be thankful to the right person—to the right one. If I’m thankful to myself, that doesn’t do it. That’s me having a big head and giving myself credit where I shouldn’t. If I’m thankful to fate or to cosmic coincidence, that doesn’t do it—because that’s being thankful to a lie. I really need to understand who to be thankful to. And that who is God—my Creator, my Savior, my Comforter—my all.
When I say thank you, I’m admitting the obvious—that someone else did something good for me or gave something good to me. Thankfulness isn’t about good manners. It’s about the truth of the good things that are in my life. Being thankful connects me with the truth—seeing it, embracing it, speaking it, living it.
When we’re in the middle of a big mess—like an entanglement with a sociopath—we can be tempted to lose perspective. That’s natural.
If you’re thinking What do I have to be thankful for?—let me ask you some questions…. Do you have eyes that can see? Did you have food to eat yesterday? Do you have legs that allow you to walk and hands that you can use? Is there anyone on this earth who cares about you? Do you have clothes to wear? Do you have somewhere to lay your head at night? Is there a sun to light your day and a moon to guide your night?
If you answered yes to even one of those questions, you have something very profound to be thankful for. The one who provided something good for you was your Creator—the One who made you and has plans for your life. If you don’t know him yet, it’s time to start reading his love letter to you every day. As you embrace God’s truth and his love for you, you’ll begin to see things very differently, and the lies in your thoughts will begin to be replaced with the truth. As your mind is renewed, you’ll be transformed. Seek him. Seek truth every day while you read the Bible.
What happens when we give our thanks and our worship to the wrong one—the wrong person, entity, thing or concept? And—make no mistake—everyone worships something or someone. Everyone serves something or someone. Where is your adoration? Your longing? Your deepest focus? Who or what do you go to for help?
My gratitude and worship can be misdirected… to myself, to another person, to something God created (instead of to the one who created it), to a man-made idol, to an addiction, to Satan or to no one at all (i.e., a lie like Fate or Coincidence).
Expressing gratitude and worship to the wrong one brings all kinds of trouble and eliminates the blessing. It eliminates the building, creating aspect of rightly-oriented thankfulness and worship.
If I’m orienting my thankful thoughts to the right one, there’s something else I need to do. It’s essential to express my thankfulness directly to God every day, as I talk to him and pray to him. It’s absolutely essential. Knowing that every good gift comes from God, how can I not tell him thank you every day?
To think thankful thoughts about God while refusing to express thankfulness to God keeps us apart. It seems to me that there are two primary reasons for this acknowledged but unspoken thankfulness. (1) It can be a willful, stubborn withholding of what God deserves and what I truly need—closeness to God and an ever-deepening trust in him. It’s like saying, “I know you’re good, but I’m not speaking to you.” (2) For some of us, not thanking God directly can be an expression of our own feelings of unworthiness (i.e., “I’m too messed up for God to want me”). If you’ve ever felt messed up or broken, you’re exactly who God is seeking. God created you to be in a relationship with him.
Start building your most important relationship
by thanking God every day
for the good things he’s given you.
When I humbly thank the right one—when I thank God—I build my trust in him and my relationship with him. What does humble thankfulness look like? Unlike your Friendly Neighborhood Sociopath, humble thankfulness never says “You owe me.”
Rightly-oriented thankfulness builds faith. It’s one of a number of different faith-building blocks—one that’s often overlooked. When I thank God, I’m saying I see the good person/thing/place/experience you gave me, I see your goodness, I acknowledge your goodness, I experience your goodness, I receive your goodness, I’m changed by your goodness, I remember your goodness, I trust in your goodness, …I trust you.
Coming next: In part 2 of Thanksgiving, we’ll take a short visit to Sociopathville. Then we’ll mosey on to Preschool Place where we’ll talk about a wonderful Veggie Tales show and much more…. Later, in part 4, we’ll sit down on a comfortable, shaded bench in Ponder Park to take a thoughtful look at two beautiful, refreshing ponds called Happiness and Joy.
Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.
Truth from The Word: Micah 6:8
Song for Healing: “Every Good Thing” by The Afters