Thanksgiving opens the door to the time that we fondly title “The Holidays.” First Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then the beginning of a New Year. Traditionally the birth of another year is a time of self-assessment and the setting of goals, “resolutions,” to make some needed change in our lives.
A dear friend and Christian mentor shared a Thanksgiving poem with our Bible study class yesterday morning. And a particular thought in that poem stuck with me. That excerpt is….
. . .time to take inventory, keep the good, toss out the bad.Liz Tate, “Thanksgiving,” 11/27/2002
I have been suffering with clinical depression for a long time. Treated initially with medication, I am now working with a therapist to resolve some longstanding grief issues, making this is a natural time for me to latch onto the notion of “inventorying” life.
The definition of inventory is “a complete list of” (noun) or “to make a complete list of” (verb). This post will not allow either. But perhaps it will inspire others to take a more thoughtful approach to this holiday season, as it has inspired me.
My “good” to be kept foremost in my heart and mind this Thanksgiving:
- God’s love, compassion, forgiveness, provision and providential plan for my life. The gift of His Son to provide redemption.
- My family, loving husband, daughter(s), son, grandchildren and great-grands.
- This house that is a home, warm and welcoming.
- Food to nourish our bodies and, sometimes, just provide comfort to our spirits (e.g. chocolate, ice cream, mac and cheese, etc.)
- Work that is rewarding spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, professionally.
- The opportunity to finish unfinished grief work. Because it is work! (And don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.)
My “bad” to be tossed out ASAP (with God’s help):
- Procrastination. For instance, failing to take (not make) the time to write. The time is there if I use it wisely.
- Rumination over past mistakes and “what-ifs.”
- Unforgiveness. Which can make me “bitter” not “better.” (Thank you, Judy, for this thought.)
- Lack of self-care. Which makes me exhausted and irritable and just generally leads to a bad attitude and all three of the above. (And can be especially absent during the busy-ness of the Holiday Season.)
My “plan” for how I will grow, starting now and not waiting until January 1, 2022:
- More time in God’s word.
- More time in prayer.
- More time with family.
- More time at the keyboard.
Yeah, sure, goals are supposed to be more specific than that, but you get the general idea. So, I’m giving thanks for those good things. And working to remedy those “bad” things. And (hopefully) constantly (not just at a new calendar year) re-assessing where I am spiritually, emotionally, physically and where I need to be and trying to figure out how I can get there.
I am most of all thankful that God is on my side in all of this. For I am confident that, “. . .He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 NKJV (than means me and you, y’all!) and “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NKJV (Even when bad things happen in our lives, because, to use Tony Evans’ analogy, those “detours” can be used by God to mature us and prepare us for His plan down the road of life.)
Who will join me in taking inventory “early” this season? Let’s not wait until New Year’s Eve to throw together a list of resolutions to be discarded by February 1st at the latest. Can we resolve each day to work to make it better than the day before? To be kinder? More patient? To walk a little closer to God?
Heavenly Father, Grant that I may always seek your path, your plan, your purpose in all that I think, say and do. Soften my heart, sharpen my mind, strengthen my body. And I give you praise and thanksgiving. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen
And here is Liz’s poem in its entirety, with thanksgiving that she gave me permission to use!