Wednesday, November 18, 2015
I haven’t been writing these #100ThankfulWeeks posts for a while now because I had a reached a point where I felt like I was grasping at straws. As improbable as it sounds, I was running out of ideas for things to be thankful for. Which is crazy, because every day is filled with millions of reasons to be thankful.
I also started to feel like I was “preaching” from a soapbox (like the last sentence in the above paragraph). That’s not what I wanted my posts to be. I wanted to express thankfulness and joy because so often it seems like we’re obsessed with all the violence, terror and nastiness around us. It’s true that all of that stuff is everywhere and more keeps pouring into our lives every day - but so do all the blessings and reasons to be thankful. I wanted to offer something positive to counter all that negative.
Anyway, thankfulness and joy was what I was going for. But instead, I eventually just felt like a “goody goody” talking into a big, empty void where praise and thankfulness feels like a phony performance. I partly think that’s because it’s hard to talk about thankfulness publicly - unless we’re in a designated spot where it’s expected. Like a place of worship. I also think griping, criticizing, pointing out flaws, and harping on what’s wrong in the world is just so much easier. It’s part of everyday conversation. It’s additive and self-perpetuating. I seem to rarely have conversations centered on thankfulness (and if I do, they’re extremely short-lived), but I can’t seem to help but talk about what’s wrong in the world every day. And one comment leads to another to another and before long it’s a vortex of gripes, complaints and “solutions”.
It’s like being a slave to negative thinking.
That has to change. Focusing on the bad, even in an effort to end the bad, is a choice. Just like focusing on the good, even in the midst of so much bad, is a choice. I can grumble in all things or I can rejoice in all things. I can focus on what divides me from you, or I can focus on our shared commonality. I can despise you as my enemy, or I can hug you as my human sibling. I can beg God to change the world to suit me, or I can praise God for a world of endless opportunities.
Does that still feel like preaching. Sorry. I don’t want to preach. I’m just convincing myself to praise. I want to live a world filled with praise and thankfulness instead of grumbling and vengeance. I want to be surrounded by people overcome with love and joy. I want to embrace everyone, around the world, without fear. And I guess I hope that if I can manage to practice what I preach and train myself to burst with praise and thankfulness, maybe it will be infectious and spread, one person at a time, to the whole world.
That’s my dream. Is it reality? I guess I’m choosing to make it my reality.
Sometimes the choice feels a little like Luke pleading with Obi-Wan to recognize hope, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, “There is still good in him.” And sometimes this choice is Luke struggling to resist the powerful darkness of hatred, vengeance and despair, “I’LL NEVER JOIN YOU!” When all hope seems lost, it’s trusting love to overcome darkness as we carry our enemies to safety, “I’ve got to save you…” And someday, if we don't give up or lose hope, we will hear them whisper back, “You already have…”
So I’m pushing on with this uncomfortable expression of public thankfulness and praise. Hopefully I’ll get better at it. Hopefully it will become less awkward for all of you to read. And maybe I’ll infect myself. Then I’ll try to infect you. And if that works, then you’ll each infect people and by this time next year, the whole planet will be reeling under a malignant virus of thankfulness and praise.
And that sounds just awesome.