When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was not my family’s best holiday. The week was usually pretty stressful, and the enemy sure knew how to use that to his advantage. (In case you didn’t know, the enemy hates families. Especially families who love and serve the Lord.)
In time, I think my parents learned that one of the best ways for our family to manage the stress of that week was to get out of town. So, we started traveling for many of our Thanksgivings when I was in my early teens. Something about not being in our house diffused some of the stress. When I got to “working age,” I volunteered to work on Thanksgiving if it was a year when we weren’t traveling. (I worked at a gym, and they’d open for a couple hours in the morning.) I guess I’d caught onto the “get out of the house” strategy.
When I got married I carried some of that dread surrounding Thanksgiving with me, even though my first several Thanksgivings were spent with my in-laws and some of my anxiety surrounding the day manifested itself in ways I’ve wished it hadn’t.
So, a year or so ago, I finally got the bright idea to start praying as soon as November started… Pray over Thanksgiving, pray over my spirit, pray over my attitude, pray over my mouth, pray over my husband, pray over my family, etc.
By this time I’d shared a little bit with close friends about how much I used to really dislike Thanksgiving, and to my surprise, it was not an isolated-to-Lindsay feeling. Lots of my friends (who are like-minded in many ways) also dread the day.
I started asking the question, “Why?” I listened to their answers, blogged about it, and hurt a lot of people’s feelings in the process.
I missed the mark.
I hit the target but not dead-center; I was way on the outer most circle.
The truth is Thanksgiving is complicated- I think I could write a blog series on everything I’ve learned about why this is such a hard week for people.
Fast forward to present day. This morning I realized I was irritable for no reason. “Why?” Why did I feel this way? I had no reason to be stressed or irritated. Then it donned on me… Thanksgiving is coming.
For me Thanksgiving symbolizes a humongous cacophony of feelings- complicated feelings and hopes and desires all mixed in with the reality of somehow needing to simultaneously survive AND enjoy the season WHILE maintaining the every day requirements of my life (wife, work from home mom of 2 kids, Bible study, etc).
I desperately did not want to fall into the old pattern of my stress manifesting itself in ways I would either regret or that would simply ruin the holiday for others around me.
So I prayed.
There are a lot of practical strategies for getting through the holidays successfully, whether it be financial strategies (stay within budget, don’t go into debt), emotional strategies (like my family opting to get out of town most Thanksgivings), or logistical strategies (getting all the presents purchased, parties attended to, and turkeys roasted). But, I’m finally realizing that my only hope this season that covers every single facet of it is fully and wholly in Jesus.
The older you get, the faster these holidays just blow right by us. I want every opportunity to enjoy these special times of year (which is my primary argument for decorating and listening to Christmas music as early as I do). But, I just can’t do it on my own. Because when I rely on my own strategies, they won’t overcome all the complications this time of year brings. However, when I ask Jesus to get involved, when I opt to do things His way instead of simply relying on my own good-sense, I have a much better chance at not giving the enemy a foot-hold.
He hates families. He hates gratitude. He hates giving. He hates people gathering around the table and giving thanks to God before they break bread. No duh, he hates Christmas. But, I think he hates Thanksgiving too. So, he uses everything he can to wreak havoc on the day, so he can wreak havoc on families.
Will you join me this year in telling him, “Not this year, Satan”? Because Thanksgiving may not be about Jesus, but we’re going to prepare like it does. We’re going to pray, and we’re going to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the One for whom we are most thankful, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Until next time,