As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I want to explore some new territory – kind of like the pilgrims.
Each Thanksgiving, my family lists all of the things for which we are thankful. Typically, though, it is a list of things – which is perfectly appropriate – we are called to be thankful for things. But how about adding a new twist this year?
How about listing all of the ways you are thankful God made you? All the ways He made your spouse. All the ways He made each of your children. Give thanks for His design and His handiwork in each member of your family (Ephesians 2:10).
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We can be so self-critical and critical of others, that we miss acknowledging and "calling out" those flashes of glory woven into each of us.
The truth is, I’m a work in progress. My husband is a work in progress, as are our children. There are always kinks to work out, tweak, tame and change in all of us. But sometimes, especially in the Christian community, we can spend so much time looking at those behaviors that need changing that we miss the beauty God instilled uniquely in each of us.
Yes, we need to take a look at those sin patterns that trip us up as we seek holiness. But let’s also take time to be thankful for the characteristics God so purposefully, carefully and deliberately created in each of us (Psalm 139:14).
To be clear, this is not an exercise in self-absorption or even esteeming our loved ones. No, it is the created being thankful to the Creator. We are not worshipping the design, but the Designer.
I went through this little calling out exercise as I thought about our kids. Even those attributes we are “working on” are rooted in the beauty He put in them. And I became a puddle of tears 60 seconds flat….
I’m thankful for the way God made our oldest daughter. She is rarely in a hurry and traipses through her morning routine. And while her laid-back approach can make mornings a bit harried, this characteristic is also a beautiful blessing. She is the one who will sit with a sick family member, stop to help a hurting friend or read a story to a younger sibling. She won’t hurry away when I want to ask questions about her day. She lingers with those who need her.
I’m thankful for the way God made our son. He is “Father Time” -- a stickler about the clock and he toe-taps us through each morning. While I don’t fully appreciate being reminded of the time every five minutes, he’s dependable, eager and driven like few people I’ve ever encountered. And because he’s a clock-watcher, he looks for ways to serve his sisters and get us out the door. He puts their lunches in their backpacks, ties his younger sister’s shoes and has even offered to do hair. I can’t wait to see the husband and father he will be someday. And I’m thankful that God placed him and his older sister in the same family so they can learn from each other and honor each other’s different design.
I’m thankful for the way God made our youngest daughter. She is a deep sea of questions. There’s no end to her curiosity. Just when I think we’ve exhausted a subject, she goes deeper still. With that God-given attribute, she makes everyone feel special by investing time and interest in them. She has such a winsome way of engaging and connecting with others. No one is a stranger and no one feels unimportant in her presence.
I went through the same exercise of thankfulness for the way God designed my husband and then me. For now I want to keep those to myself, but what joy to focus on who God created us to be and how we can bless others with that design.
This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to thank God for just how He made you; for just how He made your spouse; for just how He made your kids. Are you or they (or anyone) perfect? No. But marinating in a sea of thankfulness and calling out what God has placed in each of us will bring you to a thousand hallelujahs.
One additional challenge: write down all of the ways you are thankful for the way God made you and keep it… you’ll need it one day. Then make a list for your spouse and your children and give it to them. We are all made in the image of God and there is no higher compliment than when someone notices and calls out His reflection in us.
“You are precious and honored in My sight and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4)
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