Thanksgiving! Thank God! It is a simple blessing of God that He would ensure a season of giving thanks remains in our otherwise spiritually-neutered and exhausting annual calendars. Although the calendar around this time is really busy in my circles, its advent is a blessing. So much of the year seems like we hold onto this life-raft only with great exertion. Thanksgiving and Christmas intrude into this bleakness with respites and opportunities to think about other things (mostly).
I wonder if the boys are paying attention? Boys are not normally thankful. I know that mom’s and dad’s want to protest that their little charmer is the ONE who is thankful. I hope it continues.
It won’t. It won’t last because the boy lives with his parents. His parents’ lifestyle of consumption will be written on his heart with an iron stylus. We, parents, consume the resources of life almost without a second thought. We do, and our children do (dance lessons, Scouts, youth groups, Spanish club, soccer team, choir…). A kid who lives in a home where mom and dad are treating life as if they own its rights will translate that value to little J. He will grow up to be a young man who sees life as his storehouse of resources to consume. I will warn my daughters (and watch my son).
Consumption isn’t our only issue. Expectations are a close second (if that). Sure, some parents may pray before meals (which is good), but then live in expectation at every other time. We expect to be given things, respect, raises, accolades, gifts and vacations. (This whole financially ruinous season seems to scream lessons at us at this very level.) What does expectation breed? If someone asked you to choose an adjective that best describes our culture and you could only choose from “discontent” and “thankful,” which would you choose?
Foolish optimists might choose the latter. Those who know what they look like in a mirror would choose the former. I’ve seen discontent as a lifestyle; to some degree I have lived such a life. We traffic in the sea of discontent riding in the ferry of expectation. “I was made for so much more….” “I’m bored….” “I wish this tasted better….” “When will it stop raining?….” We expect to be handed the world on a platter so discontent is easy. Will that boy look at his aging wife (my daughter) and be content when she’s beautiful in other-than-physical ways? Will he live with this “I deserve a sexy and alluring wife” and be like so many I’ve seen who bolt for the door?
- Will the boy whose families were committed to unbridled consumption learn to be a giver?
- Will the boy whose parents acted like life owed them learn to serve?
He had better if he wants marry my daughter.
How? Thanksgiving. The pathway from the drowning waterfall of consumption is thanksgiving. He realizes that foremost what he was owed (judgment) is spared by God’s mercy in Jesus Christ. Then, he learns to look around at all that he has been given and say, “thank you.” He grows to understand that a life consuming at every turn makes you fat in every way. But he also recognizes that discontent is creepy and crafty and that it rides along quietly in his heart. He gets used to asking himself why he gets angry when he doesn’t get what he wants. He starts to see the people and places and things God gives to him are opportunities for him to invest and serve and build up.
Thanksgiving is a start. So, mom and dad, get that boy started.