As a pastor of a decade and a half now, I have sat through some pretty rough family counseling sessions.
You’d be amazed at the harsh things people can say to each other… or, maybe you wouldn’t be. I guess that’s even sadder.
Some of the barbs that get thrown include:
- If you cared about me at all…
- I don’t think I can love you anymore…
- You’re an idiot…
- I just wish I was as important to you as your sister is…
- It’s me or the XBOX (seriously, I’ve heard this one)…
- I can’t stand to be around you anymore…
Ouch! After a few of those, it’s a little awkward trying to schedule the next meeting. I never know if they are planning on being together in a week, or if I’ll have to visit one of them in the county clink where they now reside for stabbing their mate.
I can almost hear my voice change as I ask them when they are available to meet: “SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! Seven days from today let’s come back to this battle arena for another family smack down. Vicious verbal fists of destruction will be thrown. Powerful pundits will pound each other over the smallest disagreements and mountains will be made out of molehills! Bring the kids for the family fun. BE THERE!!!”
Yeah, we can say some pretty rough stuff to each other. Although it may not seem as biting in an outright sense, one of the most difficult things I have ever heard said to one another, or to God, is “Thanks for nothin’.”
Hmmm… things might be tough and current circumstances may not be favorable, but to say this is really going off the deep end.
When spouses say it, they are implying that because we are fighting over money right now, I’m not thankful for the 12 years of learning, loving and growing together.
When family members say it to in laws, they are communicating that because I don’t like the way you are handling the holiday schedule right now I see no value in the love you show my children or the years of history your poured into my spouse long before I knew them.
When children say it to their parents, because they’ve been grounded from the TV… well, that’s just stupid and you know it.
When people say this to God, they are telling Him because I am going through a rough patch I DO NOT appreciate all You’ve done for me, the life You’ve given and all the unseen/unknown ways You have protected and sheltered me over the years.
Thanks for nothin’ is really one of the most destructive and thoughtless attitudes a human possesses.
Conversely, one of the greatest signs of spiritual maturity and relational stability is thankfulness.
Again and again Scripture equates growth and maturity with thankfulness.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Being thankful is not something we teach our kids to do because it’s polite. It’s an outward sign that you have grown up, think right and have any hope of being happy, healthy and functional in the days ahead.
Believe me, I am not there yet. This became exceedingly clear after sharing in small group last night that I tend to be a glass half empty kind of guy, and then reading this from one of my favorite authors in my devotional readings this morning:
“Have you ever noticed that two people can have a dramatically different perspective on the same situation? It’s the old adage about whether the glass is half-empty or half-full. The distinction is more than just a difference of personality types. It’s more significant than simply whether a person is a pessimist or an optimist. Perspective is not shaped in a vacuum; it is formed int he context of gratitude.” – Erwin McManus, UPRISING
For the second time in one blog… ouch! That one really hurt.
Too many times I have seen the downside and expected the worst because my immaturity both relationally and spiritually has lead me to places of thanklessness.
So, this Thanksgiving week I am really attempting to give thanks in all circumstances.
Let me be a little transparent with and share a prayer I offer between myself and my Heavenly Father:
God, thank you for the doctors catching Noah’s illness before it was too late, and we are believing his kidneys are healing themselves and You have saved him. Thank you for the horrendous medical bills because they are evidence there was a place to take my son. And, oh yeah, thanks for insurance. Thanks for the daily frustration of what to do with a church that’s out of space, over stretched and running a 100 MPH. I’d rather be in this mess than in on of the many others our church could be in. This is at least fun stress. Thanks. Thanks for my wife and all the little things that drive me nuts, because I know that she’d have been fully justified in hitting me with her car several times this past month alone… but, she didn’t. Thanks. Thanks for my Nathan who is so quick witted he’s already out thinking me at age 8, which ticked me off and cracked me up just yesterday. I’m scared to death of his teen years, but God thanks You made him just like You made him. God, thank You for this dysfunctional bunch I call my extended family, both inlaw and outlaw. Several times they have made overseas missions look enticing, but the truth is I couldn’t raise my kids, navigate my life or bear the thought of living without them. Thanks God. Please help me not to see the half of the glass thats empty and all thats been drained away, but help me to only see the half that’s full, and let me be poured out for You. May I grow up and learn what real thankfulness is. In Jesus name, Amen.
Well, I’ve gone public, and I hope you will to. I am praying that every single reader of this article will post a comment of thankfulness. This Thanksgiving holiday week I think it would be a great gift to God and our friends/family to create a huge string of comments that are a stream of thoughts and notes of thankfulness.
Leave one to God, to your family, or about anyone/anything you can think of.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends. May your half full cup be enough to overflow from your life to every other life you touch!