Thankfulness- From Feeling to Action 

The Thanksgiving season has begun. While it seems everyone celebrates this holiday, it’s often overlooked.  It’s during this season we are encouraged to take the time to acknowledge the things taken for granted in our everyday lives. But being thankful isn’t always an easy task, it can often be seen as a struggle. Daily tasks, longings and hardships can keep us from taking the time of day to experience true gratitude. Though the world keeps pushing us forward, there are many simple ways to take a step back and give thanks to loved ones, God and our community. 

It seems the average answer to the question “What are you thankful for,” is friends and family. While it is the most average answer, these are the people we most take for granted. Not only that but our friends and family are no doubt the most important people we could have in our lives. It’s in this season that we should take the time to express our gratitude for these people. 

Glen Laster, psychology professor at Point Loma Nazarene University, said he sees thankfulness as love for others. 

“To love our friends and family is an active word. You have to be active in someone’s life,” said Laster. “You have to show them that you love them.”

During this season and going past, we as people can gather together with the ones we love and through our actions and our words reassure our loved ones that we are thankful for them. It could be simple Thanksgiving cards or helping your parents prepare for Thanksgiving dinner where we can show our appreciation and gratitude for these special people in our lives. 

Our loved ones are far from the only ones deserving of our thanks. As believers, it is crucial to be taking time away from our daily distractions to take the time to reflect on the goodness of the Lord. As believers, there are countless blessings we may not realize we have been blessed with to be grateful for. 

Just like our loved ones, it is our love for Christ that compels us to show our thankfulness. It is when we truly learn to love the Lord in return that we can act upon it.

“When you are thankful for God, you’ll do anything for God. He came and he bled and died for us and he called us back to him when we were in sinful nature,” said Laster. “Those of us who know the agape love should be able to show him how grateful we are every day.”

Amy Cuthbert, a professor of Bible and Theology, wrote for her class “How Christians Should Approach Thanksgiving.” In this passage, she touches on the rough history of the holiday and how it has affected how we approach celebration. 

“Jesus’ death on the cross was gruesome and violent representing all the horrors of humanity and oppression,” wrote Cuthbert. “On that cross, He bore the sins of colonialism and slavery and we are told that when we look to Him our hearts will be cleansed and changed from these evils. When I approach Thanksgiving, I do it in thankfulness of a God who has made a way for us out of the evils of this world. I open my table, my home and my life to those whom my ancestors oppressed and mistreated. I acknowledge the dark history behind the Thanksgiving celebration as well as the thankfulness that we all carry in response to God’s grace in our lives.”

Another way to be thankful this season is by showing gratitude to the community. Whether it be first responders, service members or your professors and mentors, our community is full of people who put others before themselves. 

According to Chopra, you can show thanks to your community by taking the time to find a way to get involved. Finding a church, non-profit or fundraiser to volunteer at is the perfect chance to show gratitude to the people in your community.  

Hosting and providing for others in your community is another way to spread your blessings to others this season. Maybe it’s inviting a peer over for dinner who may be lonely this season or providing a meal for the less fortunate that you can care for and give back. 

Many can find this time of year to be difficult. Some may not feel like they have much to be thankful for or not have anyone to spend this time of gratitude with. It’s important when going through these struggles to find someone who you can show thanks. 

“You need to reach out,” said Laster. “Whether it be finding a friend or a co-worker. It can be pretty depressing spending this time alone, it’s important to have someone there.”