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Let's go beyond simple giving thanks this year. Let's make thanks.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner.
If you’re like me, this greatest of holidays is not only about the food, family and football - three of the best things on the planet - but about being thankful. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I inevitably reflect on the myriad of things and people that I am thankful for: My parents, my job, my friends and church, Texas, etc.
The list could go on and on and on, all of ours could if we recognize the small things we often take for granted. Even in our down and difficult times, we are richly blessed in so many ways, and a heartfelt and sincere thanks is the least that we could do because of it all.
I’m excited to be thankful!
And for whatever reason, it hit me recently – I’m doing it wrong.
It’s good to be thankful for things, don’t get me wrong. It is good to be appreciative, but in the end, I’m giving thanks for all the things done for me; for all the things given to me; for all the people who have helped me.
It’s all about me!
My favorite holiday, the one I look forward to all year where all the elements come together to form a super vortex of holiday goodness is ruined! Simply giving thanks doesn’t seem so noble or selfless anymore…
So instead of simply giving it this year, I’m going to do something more – I’m going to make thanks.
Every week I’m going to do something that creates thanks. I’m going to do something for someone, whether I know them or not, that will give them a reason to be thankful.
I am #MakingThanks (hashtag optional).
Being in the fourth week of this new mission, the opportunities have come out of nowhere, and I have found myself far more attentive to possible chances of do-goodery and even excited at their prospect.
In the first week, I was invited to a charity dinner in Houston to benefit the Boys and Girls Country of Houston, an opportunity that doesn’t present itself too often as I am not a deep or even partially deep-pocketed individual. But their stories, the lives they have changed and the joy with which they did it inspired me and so I gave to their mission:
“To change the lives of children from families in crisis by loving and nurturing them in a Christian environment, raising them to become self-sustaining and contributing adults.”
I’m not going to be able to make a huge splash in their donations, but my part will help someone out and they will have another reason to be thankful.
Later in that week I ended up helping someone move, an activity that I absolutely loathe after having done it so many times in my past. I stayed far longer than I had planned or wanted to and was exhausted by the end of the night, but I knew this person needed a lot of help and so I gave it. They now have an extra thing to be thankful for.
Second week in and the person I helped move heard about my new focus and mission. They told me about a coworker who was having a rough time after losing her daughter earlier this year to cancer. The holidays, usually a time for celebration and rejuvenation of the spirit, now looked bleak and sorrowful.
She now has a plane ticket back home to spend Christmas with her family, and a big reason to be thankful.
Third week was more difficult. No obvious situation presented itself and I felt like I had failed so soon. Then I got an email from a reader who told me that he had used my piece on abortion arguments in an apologetics class he was teaching at his church. The people in his class wanted to be able to argue their pro-life convictions and just didn’t have the tools. Now they have some, and #MakingThanks continued.
I was being taught a lesson. Making thanks does not have to necessarily be something immediate and tangible. There are so many ways and times that we affect people’s lives without even knowing or intending it, and those ways present an opportunity to make more thanks.
Week four is underway, and while I learned an important lesson last week, I’m being more proactive this time. Throughout the week, I’m going through my entire contact list and sending uplifting, complimentary messages to everyone in it. Based on a couple of responses so far, a friendly positive message out of the blue can honestly tilt someone’s day to the positive and really make a difference.
And if they ask why I’m sending it or where that came from, I have an easy answer - #MakingThanks.
We all feel better giving than receiving; it’s one of those wonderful quirks about humanity that seems contradictory. I hope you join me and dedicate your next few weeks to #MakingThanks for other people. I have a feeling it will be enough of a wonderful experience that it will extend well beyond Thanksgiving and become a year-long habit.
It’s time to create a more grateful world.
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