This week has been a mixed bag of emotions for me. With the American Thanksgiving holiday yesterday, there have certainly been more than the usual number of moments reflecting on all for which I am thankful. But some of the week was dominated by other less-than-admirable emotions of anger, of disgust with what I was watching in the news, and of times when I spoke or wrote out of those emotions when I should have probably just kept my thoughts to myself.
What I should have demonstrated for the week was an ongoing attitude of gratitude. What I actually demonstrated was a far cry from that. I resonated immediately, therefore, with my friend, Jay’s, post on Facebook last night when he wrote, “I’m thankful, but not often enough. It’s good to have a day to be reminded.”
I really do have so much to be thankful for:
- a family who loves me and whom I love;
- my first grandson and second grandchild on the way, due in April;
- a comfortable home in a safe neighborhood in a city we’ve enjoyed living in for almost 30 years;
- a job and career that is fun and fulfilling and a joy to invest my time and professional life in daily;
- all the food and necessities of life a man needs – so much more than what is typical throughout the world;
- a country that in spite of its challenges is where I prefer to live;
- good health that allows me to do what I want when and where I want;
- a church and church family I have loved since our second week in Louisville in 1985;
- a relationship with the living God that provides ultimate meaning, purpose and hope for this life and the next;
- the opportunity to freely read, study and apply God’s Word to my life;
- opportunities to serve God and others every week in a variety of ways;
- and even the best canine friend and companion I’ve ever had in my nearly 58 years.
When I look at the above list, I am in awe at the blessings I enjoy. And I am simultaneously embarrassed by the times I allow an unhealthy focus on other matters to steal that joy. I am ashamed that I could for a moment look past these giant gifts only to focus elsewhere. I regret that I fail to be a consistent source of a good and encouraging word to others, choosing instead to sound off about my latest emotional reaction to news or events of the day. I feel remorse for getting angry at those with whom I disagree rather than seeking to understand and show the love of Christ in the midst of those differences. I realize after the fact far too often that I have failed to be Christ’s ambassador when I spew from my mouth the venom that I allow to fester in my heart, for “the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matthew 12:34), and that overflow is too often sewage rather than life-giving water.
So on this day after Thanksgiving, please know that this ongoing work in progress called Jeff is truly grateful and thankful for so much. Also know that I am truly sorry for those moments when I am far less than what I can and should be. I am called to be conformed to His image, and I have a long, long way to go.