Remembering to Remember
By Ed Delph
November 20, 2023
Well, here we go again, it's holiday time! In North America, we start with Thanksgiving, and then comes Christmas, which finishes with New Year's. Notice the order of these holidays; it’s thanks first, then comes giving, and then comes a fresh new start. That’s no accident. Thanksgiving, to be indeed Thanksgiving, is first thanks, then giving.
Note: Thanksgiving is never meant to be limited to a single day.
There are many things I could say about thankfulness or Thanksgiving. For example, Thanksgiving is when one species ceases to gobble, and another begins to gobble. There’s one thing for which you should be abundantly thankful – only you and God have all the facts about yourself. Here’s another thing you can be thankful for. If you can’t pay your bills, you can be thankful you’re not one of your creditors. Hello?
We ought to be thankful we live in a country where folks can say what they think without thinking. That requires freedom. People don't realize how much they possess to be thankful for until they pay taxes on it. Finally, if you feel you haven't much to be thankful for, why not be thankful for some things you don't have? For example, once, my wife Becky had her car towed away. She parked where she didn't understand what the street sign meant. A few days later, at a Bible study where people shared praises for the week, she said she was thankful that the towing charge was only $25.00.
Fulton Sheen wrote something concerning the consequences of ingratitude in children. "A fascinating phenomenon in children is that gratitude or thankfulness comes relatively late in their young lives. They almost must be taught thankfulness; if not, they are apt to grow up thinking that the world owes them a living." The lesson here is if we aren't thankful for what we’ve got, we aren’t very likely to be thankful for what we are going to get.
So, where does thankfulness or gratitude come from? Where do thanklessness and ingratitude come from? They both come from the same thing. The answer is attitude. Your attitude precedes your altitude. Pilots know how this works. You're climbing if the nose of the plane is up and descending if the plane's nose is down. When selfish attitudes take over (nose down), causing ingratitude, it closes one’s life to better things.
Here's an example of a nose-up attitude. Matthew Henry, the famous scholar in Britain, was once accosted by thieves and robbed. He wrote about the incident. "Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not too much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed." How can you be thankful for something like that happening to you? It starts with a good attitude that sees the big picture. It could have been much worse.
Webster’s Dictionary says attitude is a mental position or feeling about an object. It’s an inward feeling expressed by an outward behavior. An author wrote the following about attitude. "What is attitude? It is the ‘advance-self’ of our true selves. Its roots are inward, but its fruit is outward. It's our best friend or our worst enemy. It's more honest and more consistent than our words. It's an outward look based on past experiences. It's a thing that draws people to us or repels them. It's never content until it is expressed. It's the librarian of our past. It's the speaker of our present. It's the prophet of our future."
Ability is what you can do. Motivation determines what you do with what you can do. Attitude determines how well you do it. Your attitude determines how well you will do ‘gratitude.’
So, what is thanksgiving or giving thanks? Neil Strait says, "Thanksgiving is the attitude of the life that acknowledges the contribution from God, others, and life. Thanksgiving puts power into living because it opens the generators of the heart to respond gratefully, to receive joyfully, and to react creatively."
Please consider what Richard Douglas says about thankfulness. "The modern person seldom pauses to give thanks for life's simple blessings. One reason is that we are used to having so much. We assume that we will have all the good things in life. Another reason is that it hurts our pride to be grateful. We do not want to admit that God is the Provider of all good things. We are His stewards. Being thankful requires humility and faith in God. When we have these, we can be grateful."
In other words, when you drink from a spring, remember to be thankful for the spring. This comes from an attitude of gratitude.
Yes, I know it's hard to soar with eagles when you feel like you live with turkeys, but where is your attitude today? Is your nose up or your nose down? Has it never been better or never been worse? Is your glass half-empty or half-full? Is it “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," "Make the World Go Away”, or “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning?” When you have an excellent A.Q. (attitude quotient), it accentuates your I.Q.
Why not tailor-make your attitude to fit the Thanksgiving holiday this week? Be proactive, not reactive. Thanksgiving is not thanks-forgetting. It’s remembering to remember to give thanks. Thanksgiving is saying to God and others, “Thanks for giving me or us _________.” You write in the blank.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com