Let your last thinks all be thanks. W.H. Auden, poet
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful thing, isn’t it? We have so much, so we give thanks. Simple. Easy peezy.
But we humans never seem to like the simple. Somehow we think simple is missing out, that we are leaving something on the table. There must be more.
For me, in this season of life, I have so much to be thankful for. When I look back over my life, even the hard times have been times that I can give thanks for.
But most of my life I did what so many do. I gave thanks with strings attached, with other things buttoned on the front or back that changed the purity of giving thanks into something different.
- I am thankful for my car, BUT I wish I had a new one.
- I give thanks for my husband, BUT I wish he would do more around the house.
- I thank you God for my job, but I coulda had a better one if I had finished college sooner.
- I am ever so thankful for this house, but it woulda been a better one if I we had made more money.
And on and on it goes. The but.woulda,coulda,shouldas of our life. We rarely just rest in what we have. We rarely sit back and enjoy, really enjoy, what God has so plentifully provided. We cannot relax into what our hands and hearts have worked for, even prayed for.
Author Brene Brown recently wrote ‘FOMO’s favorite weapon is comparison. It kills gratitude and replaces it with ‘not enough.’
The but.woulda,coulda,shouldas are more than FOMO (fear of missing out) with two distinctively subtle yet powerful sides: the one that compares and finds you lacking – ‘not enough’ as Brown so clearly states; and, the other that kicks you in your own butt for what you have not, would not, could not do.
- Yes, I am thankful for my job, but if I woulda finished college (kick) I coulda had a great job like hers (slam).
- Yes, I give thanks for my beautiful home, but if we woulda made more money we coulda had the better one like she has.
These two sides are synergistic. One looks outward, the other inward. Envy, comparison, loss, missed. ‘Thankful’ gets lost in that despair.
Stupid humans. (Not very kind, but gosh, we are sometimes aren’t we?)
So, let’s see what thankfulness could look like without the add-ons. Here are some of my thankfuls, without the add-ons, in no special order.
- I am thankful for a full head of hair, golden and fine and soft as a kitten, and thankful it grew back thicker than before chemo.
- I give thanks for a husband who sticks around and stays quiet when I am in a mood, or when I am silent or sad, or when I have been hurt by someone. I am thankful he is present, my rock. Without saying a word, he is a steady in my life.
- I am thankful for every physical piece of property that surrounds my life. Every stick and mortar, every gear and wire, everything. I have need for nothing else. Nothing.
- I am more than thankful, overrun with thankfulness, for my kids and my grands. They make me whole and real. I feel light and childlike when I think of them, when I am near them. And that includes my grand-nieces who I think of as my grands anyway.
- And holy goodness, thank you for my friends, who chose me. I have no other words for them, for their specialness is too much to describe.
There. See how easy it is to just be thankful?
Let me admit to you now that putting a period on the end of some of those was challenging. I wanted to add a BUT, or a coulda or a woulda every here and there. But as I reread it, I know there is nothing to add. Nothing. Nada.
Thankfulness doesn’t mean there is not sadness, regrets, loss, even envy, in the corners of my heart. But thankfulness without strings so often is the elixir that soothes the wounds, and heals the hurts in the magic kinda way that only God understands, cause he’s the one with the magic wand.
And here’s the real kicker. God loves me right where I am. He puts no strings from the past or into the future to love me, to accept me. He sees me right here, and says ‘Girl, you are enough, just the way you are.’
And that leaves me wordlessly thankful.