I thought about doing the typical Thanksgiving post, listing things I’m grateful for, but since I already did that in a previous post, this post had to be different somehow. A topic that has crossed my mind lately is how today’s society can sometimes be overly focused on being grateful. This focus on gratefulness and being happy with oneself is great in small doses but it can actually lead to overt complacency when applied to oneself and one’s life.
“Gym today? Nah. Look at these buns of steel–I’ve worked so hard this far, why need to push myself further?”
In this instance and similar ones, thankfulness can easily merge into complacency. While I’m not arguing that being grateful is inherently wrong, remind yourselves throughout the holiday season that in a personal sense, we should never become thankful to the point that we’re complacent and don’t allow the sanctifying work of God in us. In a sense, we should never be truly satisfied with ourselves because that can in turn bring about an unhealthy level of self-confidence. In order to glorify God, we need to constantly seek improvement and be open to the changes God wants to instill in our personalities or actions.
Another caution is that if we are “too” grateful, what happens if what we are thankful for is taken away? In the Bible, a rich young ruler literally walked away from a life following Jesus because he had too many material possessions and wasn’t willing to give them up. Remember to hold on to things loosely, because they are just things. And that goes for relationships as well. While it’s essential to work at relationships and recognize that they won’t just get better with no effort, people can disappoint us and nobody is perfect. We can’t afford to be complacent about what stuff we have or what people we surround ourselves with either, because nothing is permanent.
A few years ago, my pastor used the analogy of an open hand to explain being truly submitted to God, and that analogy will stick with me forever. A hand represents our life. Every single finger represents a different aspect of our lives–family, friends, stuff we own, dreams for the future, feelings, everything. A completely open hand is like a life truly submitted to God. He can place things in our hand or take them away when it is open. But when you shut part or all of your hand, it is like part of your life that God can’t access. And with a totally shut fist, it represents how God cannot rule over your life any more until you open it again.
I say this analogy to remind myself and others to indeed give thanks on Thanksgiving and throughout the Christmas season, but without a “closed fist”. We can say all we want that we are grateful, but the inward attitude is what matters more. Saying, “I’m happy with my life the way it is right now. I don’t need any changes” can easily breed complacency if we’re not careful, and doesn’t leave room for God to work wonders in our lives. We should strive to be truly thankful to God for all of His blessings towards us but with the reminder that this world, and therefore everything in it, is temporary.
Love, Tia 🙂