Life gets tough. And busy. And distracting. And even discouraging. Right? While it may take many different forms from family to family, I love that our country continues to recognize a holiday that is all about giving thanks. Whether as individuals, families, organizations, communities, or nations – we are better when we periodically stop to verbalize clear words of thanks for our blessings. Here are five reasons families need to take time for expressing thanks:
1. Giving thanks helps families keep a healthy perspective. Sure, we have our struggles. Money gets tight. Family members face illness. Conflicts happen. Loved ones move away or pass away. Disappointment hits hard. But good things are happening, too. Even throughout the trials. And we need to recognize and celebrate that positive reality. Things could be worse. Our family members, and those who love and care about us, are doing good and blessing us. We do very well to keep this in view and in our conversations.
2. Giving thanks encourages individual family members. When life gets tough, sometimes the most important thing in the world is to have someone gently lift up your face and remind you you are loved and appreciated and recognized for more than your failures or struggles. It brings fresh life. Fresh motivation. Fresh hope. Have you lifted the head and heart of your spouse, kids, or other family or loved ones lately with clear, specific words of appreciation and thanks? There is no better time than today – in or out of a holiday season.
3. Giving thanks trains us to see the good that happens in daily life. I love the encouraging challenge from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” When we take the time regularly to express appreciation for the good in people and the world around us, we rewire our negative, jaded, discouraged minds to be on alert for positive words and actions. And when we begin looking for the blessings, so we can articulate them, we find that they were happening around us all the time. We just needed to learn to look for them.
4. Giving thanks as a family reminds us who we are. When we let the difficulties and demands of life swallow our focus and our energy, we can steadily forget why we dearly love those who are closest to us. Taking the time to say thanks and recognize blessings together keeps us from forgetting the unique love and fondness we have for our family and dear friends. Whether we use spoken words, written words, gifts, or acts of appreciation, we need to remind ourselves and one another of how special we are to one another. Even if we do get frustrated or hurt by each other at times.
5. Giving thanks grounds us in spiritual reality. Sometimes the darkness within us, between us, and around us looms so thickly that our spirits begin to faint or break. A spirit of discouragement, defeat, or despair moves in and sets up shop. Giving thanks regularly offers a spiritual housecleaning. It keeps us in view of the light that God is shining through us and around us. We are not alone. And we are not defeated. We are overcomers. We are light-bearers. We are instruments of love and grace. If only we remember. Let us be people of thanksgiving!