Thankfulness in Lack
Thankfulness is something we carry around with us and has little to do with circumstance. Some people have a thankful spirit from childhood and never lose it. For some, thankfulness starts as a decision, which grows into a mindset of being thankful, which grows into character trait and destiny.
That being said, the holidays seem to have a way of giving us reasons to practice our thankfulness while also reminding us of a few reasons why we shouldn’t be. Even the most thankful hearts can find themselves challenged.
How can we be thankful when we’re living in lack? (especially during the Holiday season) I sent this question out to some of the most humble and victorious people I know. They’ve all been around the block. Here are some of their answers…
DON’T BE ASHAMED
Shame will try to rob you of your joy, especially your Christmas joy. It’s an uncomfortable picture (I know because I’ve been there). Your friends or family are exchanging gifts, greedily tearing into each one and thanking each other as they go. Then…they get to yours (or maybe there’s not one from you). Ouch. Awkward present face. Shame sets in.
Or perhaps you or your kids hear stories about friends getting lavish Christmas presents. Tommy got an X-box. Bill got a new mower. Julie got that Mustang convertible. It’s not just jealousy that we fight in these times, it’s guilt for not being able to give at that level for our friends and family.
These things will attempt to get you to check out this Christmas. To decline the invite to the gathering. To not give because you can’t give like everybody else. To bah humbug or think you’re not worthy of the celebration. BOGUS.
Give, give, and give. Receive, receive, and receive. So you can’t spend money? Spend time. It’s the much more precious commodity. If you feel the need to communicate your financial situation to friends and family, that’s fine. But don’t let it keep you from participating. Be intentional about your participation and your giving and you’ll see it will foster a thankful heart. In the future, when you can afford to give gifts to friends and family to the extent you'd like, you’ll appreciate it more if you’ve learned what giving and receiving is really all about because you didn’t run away from this opportunity.
CELEBRATE WHAT YOU HAVE
Don’t start playing the comparison game. That’s not a fun game because it never ends and you never win. Instead, celebrate what you have this Christmas. Don’t have a tree? Spend $10 and cut down your own tree and make home made ornaments with cheerios and string.
We get caught up in such a consumerist world where Lexus tells us the best Christmases are the ones where we find a car under a big bow in the driveway. I challenge you that that’s not the case. Give what you can give and celebrate those gifts in a big way.
Don’t look at what your neighbor has, but instead celebrate what you do. I mean this in an almost obnoxious way. You didn't get a 65" plasma TV under the tree? That doesn't mean you can't throw the best Christmas movie marathon and have a cuddle party with the kids. (Tip: get ALL the pillows in the house and throw them in the living room floor...and have snacks) There are opportunities all around you to not only count, but use and celebrate your blessings.
I’ve never met a couple who knew how to steward thankfulness, that, looking back, didn’t testify that their holidays in lack were actually some of their favorite.
Being in lack is an opportunity to celebrate things that can’t be put on a credit card.
BE WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Community. Community. Community.
I could preach here. So much of what we fill our lives with (TV, phones, internet, etc) is just plugging holes left by a lack of community. If you are short on dollars, be rich in friends and family. This is especially true during the holiday season. Studies have shown that holiday traditions somehow connect with a person's spirit and remain with them throughout life. If you don't have any rich traditions with friends or family, it's time to start! It will nurture you.
The more love you give and take from people, the less chance you’ll give yourself to realize what all you “don’t have.”
This answer came back to me. “We were quite thankful to splurge from our 25 cent pot pie once a month and feast at Long John Silvers” Or for my parents, who bought 5 cent hominy cans b/c they were 2 cents cheaper than corn, splurging might look like a can of corn.
During the holiday season there are a lot of opportunities that cost money, but there are types of splurging that won’t break the bank. An important thing to remember is to do something out of the ordinary, and to celebrate that thing.
A good way to recognize opportunities for splurging is to make a list of the ordinary and mundane. What activities do you have planned for this Christmas? What food? What traditions? Now that you have that list in front of you, how can you upgrade any of those things in the smallest way? Let your creativity flow.
If money is tight this Christmas, it’s not excuse to be less involved, It’s actually an invitation to be MORE involved.