This is the time of year where we hear about being thankful. We get to see all the lists of what our friends are thankful for through their social media megaphones. From the seemingly most thankful, we get to see things they are thankful for everyday. It is a pretty common family tradition for many to gather for a Thanksgiving celebration and all share one or two things for which they are thankful. Many of our children who are in school will talk about thankfulness with their teachers in some fashion as well.
I think being thankful is an incredibly important value to embrace. I honestly really enjoy Thanksgiving. The actual day is usually positioned in the week where I am able to enjoy spending a low key day with family. For that, I am thankful.
My struggle, as is often the case, is the hypocritical nature of the ‘thankfulness’ that escapes our mouths during the month of November. Let me give a harsh example of what I am describing. All around there will be families gathered together to eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal on November 27th. The families will slave over all of the traditional foods that must be present, while also adding their own family flare to the national foods. In many of those homes each member will share something for which they are thankful.
In this hypothetical (whether or not realistic I will leave up to you) scenario the father will wait and take his turn last. After the family has gone the father will share that for which he is thankful. He will of course share that he is thankful for his wonderful family. He will share some beautiful words about how thankful he is for his hard working wife who works so hard for the family. He will continue to share how thankful he is for his wonderful children and the gift they are in his life and how he cherishes each one of them.
Thanksgiving Day will pass like any other and the sun will rise on Friday. The weekend will be enjoyed and then Monday morning will peak its head around the corner as it does every week. Then the usual routines of life will set back in after the week of ‘thankfulness’.
Monday will find Dad going back to work. Unfortunately, that same father who expressed such great words of thankfulness for his wife and children will begin living in a way that contradicts the values he expressed. Within a few days of speaking those eloquent works of value regarding his family, he will begin to live the truth of prioritizing his professional pursuits above everything else… at all costs.
Although his words communicated his family values, his life now demonstrates his value and pursuit of professional success over anything and anyone else in his life. Has being ‘thankful’ really become meaningless in our day and culture? Are our words of ‘thankfulness’ mere lip-service, expected from us because of a date on our calendar?
What if the values that we communicate during this season of thankfulness weren’t empty tradition or lip-service, but were actually reflected by the lifestyle we live? What if we made a new tradition which looked something like this….
Father: I am so thankful for the gift of my family… and I have realized that I need to ______________ and _______________ in order to demonstrate my value, love, and thankfulness for you all. I want to make this commitment to you today because I love you and want to be the God-honoring husband and father that He has called me to be…
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… (Ephesians 5:25)Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord… (Ephesians 6:4)
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)