Saturday, April 9, 2011
A Thankful Heart?
For those of you who don’t me, I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m a pessimist... a negative, cup-half-empty, untrusting, little Eeyore. For those of you who do know me, you know it’s actually no secret at all.
Because of this (among other things), at a Bible study two Mondays ago, my friends gave me a challenge – I was supposed to try to have a spirit of thankfulness for the rest of the week. I’ll be honest with you, I can’t quite remember how we went from discussing The Last Supper to that, but nevertheless, the challenge was issued, and I accepted. I was pretty psyched about it, too. I was due to report back the following Monday, and I just knew that I was going to come in with an amazing positive spirit, telling them all how my life had changed and I was a new person. (I like to have things planned out, and that does include spiritual awakenings.) I was pretty convinced that this thankful heart was going to be the turnaround I’d been seeking in my walk with God. I went to bed looking forward to it (how’s that for optimism?).
The next morning, I kinda forgot about it. Actually, I kind of forgot about it until that Thursday afternoon – I tripped a little while walking up the stairs but didn’t fall, for which I was grateful. As I breathed a sigh of relief to God, I remembered what I had forgotten. Figuring I could work on it retroactively, I began thinking of the things that had happened that week. Foremost in my mind was learning that a friend had been admitted into the hospital. I was not thankful. Surely that didn’t count, so I kept thinking. I had a good dinner with a friend; it involved cheesecake – thankful, of course. I couldn’t remember much more of my week, so I decided I’d just start the whole thankful-thing over again the following day. Over the next week, I didn’t remember constantly, but there were moments when it occurred to me to be thankful. Good evening with friends... check. Bought a “new” truck... check. Heard the water running from the air conditioner in time to turn it off before any damage occurred... check. Then I began thinking that only being grateful for the good stuff was easy, and therefore, probably wrong. To truly have a spirit of thankfulness, I needed to be thankful even in the bad stuff, right? Ok, so my friend was in the hospital, but she was doing better and it wasn’t as serious as it could be – silver lining to be thankful for! But, wait, isn’t that actually still a “good” thing? Am I cheating? My head began to hurt a little (not thankful).
Am I supposed to actually be thankful for a bad thing happening? I looked it up – I Thessalonians 5:18 says “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Well, dang.
I know good can come from bad, so I can understand being thankful for it in hindsight, but in the middle of misery, is thankfulness an emotion that I’m truly expected to be capable of?
I know when people read a blog on a Christian website, they’re expecting guidance, encouragement, answers... honestly, you’re not going to get much of that from me (see first sentence of this blog). But I do like discussion, debate, and learning, so let’s talk – what’s your take on having a spirit of thankfulness. Do you have it? Do you want it (easy answer!)? How do you think you get it? Are we as humans capable of it or is it just something we strive for until heaven? Is it a spirit, rather than an action? There may be no easy answers, but I’m very interested in hearing what y’all think.