November 24, 2015

We Must Be Careful

‘Tis the season for thankfulness posts.

Throughout the month, several of my Facebook friends have been listing things for which they’re thankful, sharing one blessing each day. Some blog writers have been doing the same in longer form. One blogger I follow also compiled a list of 30 Scripture passages about gratitude, which I printed out for daily reference. And, of course, there are myriad posts about kids’ thankfulness crafts, including the ubiquitous decorated “hand turkey” wherein a child lists one thing for which to be thankful on each finger-feather.

I celebrate all these types of reminders. With bad news swirling all around us and stress and pressure too often boiling up within us, we need ways to remember positive over negative, thankfulness over envy, and gratitude over cynicism. Even so, though, we must be careful.

I don’t complain about people being “fake” when they post only about “rainbows and unicorns” online, and I think it’s an unfair criticism in most cases. In my experience, those who only share the positive while online aren’t usually aiming for one-upmanship or to project an unrealistic image. More often than not, they’ve simply understood that Twitter and Facebook really aren’t the place for airing one’s dirty laundry, especially when difficulties involve others. They’re using social media as surface interaction so they purposely keep it light. But they’re usually more than willing to “get real” in appropriate contexts with real-life friends.

So my concern isn’t for what people might project in public with virtual strangers; in fact, I really do applaud those who protect their privacy and – most especially – that of their children. Rather, it’s for what we communicate to the children in our lives day in and day out, far beyond the official “season of thankfulness.”

Specifically, I would challenge us to avoid getting stuck in our culture’s Thanksgiving marketing campaign. In other words, we must purpose to remember our blessings every day of every month, not merely in November when we’re told we “should.” We must aim to praise God every day and in all circumstances, not merely when we read specific psalms as shared in November blog posts. And we must model for our children that, though Thanksgiving as a holiday may be a fun and special once-a-year occasion, thanksgiving as a lifestyle of contentment all year round should be the goal.

So…what will you do toward that end long after wrapping up the leftover potatoes and cranberry sauce?


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