A friend of mine recently confessed that she’d like to be more thankful, to complain less and to realize God’s blessings in her life.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Something in me knows that it’s also something I should pray for too. But something in me also rejects the idea.
Don’t get me wrong, I desperately want to be a more thankful person – to always see how God may be using a situation for the good, for larger purposes, to always notice and acknowledge the blessings in my life. But something in me feels that if I try to attempt this, that in some way I’ll turn into one of those people that always puts on their happy face. You know those people. The glass isn’t just half full but it’s running over into my glass kind of people. The kind of people who always look like they’ve had a shower.
Something in me (probably my own sinfulness), wants to throw up a little in my mouth when I talk to those people. I want to shake them a little and get them to just confess just one tiny thing that could be bothering them, something isn’t quite perfect in their life, and to get them to admit that they really are human and not just a robot with a smile on. And if they refuse? Well then I just envy them or the circumstances in their life.
The fact is – something in me feels that if I just try to produce praise and list all I should be thankful for – that it will come across slightly fake or forced. That I’ll be somehow ignoring the reality. That the real issue will still be creeping in the dark corners, or worse yet – that it’ll be obvious to the person hearing and they will see right through me. That I’ll be just another person putting on their happy face and choosing to ignore how things really are.
Some part of who I am feels obligated to being real, to not putting on a front.
But I can’t ignore the call of the Bible to be more thankful. I read Psalms of David in the Old Testament and see how he admits his struggles, calls upon God, and then manages to praise God sometimes in the same sentence. I see the writings of Paul in the New Testament and I see how he’s able to to use his time in jail and how he admits his weaknesses as a way to encourage and build up other believers. So I can see that it really is possible to be an authentic, thankful person who doesn’t shower for days.
And when I prayed even more about this – I felt God pressed in me the following thought, “consider not just HOW to become more thankful, but WHY you want to become more thankful in the first place”.
The holy answer I’d give at bible study to this question is that I want to be a more thankful person because I want people to see my life and think “How is she so thankful in every circumstance? It must be God working in her life!” But if I’m being really truthful and honest – the real reason I want to become more thankful is so others would admire me. That I’d be one of those people with a million people at their funeral saying “She was just an amazing person”, and somehow this would affirm that I lived a life of meaning, of some sort of worthwhile accomplishment.
Perhaps my praise would increase if I’d let go of my desire for significance and embrace that as a whole my life is pretty insignificant in God’s larger plan. After all, he’s already accomplished everything needed through Jesus. And even if I were to be able to live an amazing life that others admire, after a generation or two, even my best actions will be forgotten.
Before you think I’ve quickly spiraled into negative thinking- consider for a moment how liberating this fact is. That God wouldn’t rely so heavily on me to produce a significant life on my own, but that he already planned the most perfect and significant life in Jesus to affirm just how significant I am to him. That he wants to address the deeper root issues of WHY I want to be more thankful, instead of just demanding that I put on a happy face and start counting blessings.
So, as I embark on this journey I realize I’m in great need of repentance. I need to admit that I can’t do this on my own and that I need to be real with God and others about this. That along with acknowledging my blessings, that I also need to ask God to help me peel back the layers of my sin and help me be more receptive to what he’s already done and what he’s doing. That I would be more focused in this effort on praising God as a way to bring more glory to him than myself. And that I would begin to learn how to surrender the sacrifice of praise by the constant realization that God really is good all the time, and this is not dependent on anything else – not circumstances, feelings, other’s opinions of me, or even my own evaluation of my performance.