How To Be Thankful When Our Culture Breeds Discontent

Who loves a Hallmark Channel or Lifetime Christmas movie this time of year? (If you say you don’t, I won’t believe you.) They all start the same. The rich businessman or woman is a chronically unhappy workaholic who lives in an enormous house and drives a nice car. They somehow get forced into some farm or cabin setting with a love interest and realize that true happiness can only come from simple living. It leaves you with the urge to drink hot chocolate while cutting down your own Christmas tree with Grandpa’s bajillion year old ax. The message of these movies is sort of on the right track but it leads us astray with the sentiment that quitting a job or finding a romantic relationship will bring everlasting happiness.  I wish it were that simple.

Have you ever really thought about how much our culture breeds discontent? It’s nearly impossible not to get caught up in the comparison game. Just turn on HGTV or Say Yes to the Dress. Look out your window at your neighbor’s house or check out the other cars in the school pick up line. Not to mention the different platforms of social media littered with carefully filtered photos of only the best parts of our lives.

Expectations and comparisons are stealing our gratitude and we don’t even realize it. 

Have you ever set expectations on a person, neglected to discuss it with them, and been disappointed when they weren’t met? Didn’t I just describe a daily occurrence in almost any marriage? Has someone ever gotten angry with you and you didn’t know why? Perhaps their expectations of what would happen were very different than what actually took place and you just had no idea of their disappointment.

Have you ever looked at a friend in similar circumstances as you and wondered why/how they seem to just have it all together? Meanwhile you feel like you’re paddling furiously just to keep your head above the water. The truth is, there’s no way of knowing what’s going behind closed doors – theirs or yours. Every single person has struggles and most of us choose not to share for one reason or another.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “…be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” hebrews135quote22Let’s redefine gratitude this Thanksgiving based on this promise from God.

Let’s consider seriously adjusting our expectations to include hard times and occasional hurt feelings.  We weren’t promised a life free of trouble but we were promised that God will never leave us when the inevitable crap hits the fan.

Finally, let’s stop worshipping our stuff by comparing our possessions with others’ and start worshipping the Creator who has given us immeasurably more than we could have imagined.

I think it’s important to add that I came up with the idea for this post because of struggling with this in my own life. A few weeks ago at church I had two friends tell me how nice I looked and that I was always so put together. It was hard not to laugh out loud. As a stay at home mom, Sunday is the only day of the week that I do my hair, wear make up and put on clothes that wouldn’t be appropriate for yard work. I’m sure they wouldn’t have given me that compliment if they heard me yelling at my kids that morning to get their butts in the car so we could go worship Jesus. It’s funny because it’s true.

Join me this holiday season in asking God to humble us enough to be truly content with what He’s doing in our own lives and not what we think He’s doing in others.  I’m thankful that you’ve chosen to read my post. I pray that it soothes your soul and softens your heart. May God continue to bless you more than you can imagine, and more importantly, may He grant you true contentment in Him. Happy Thanksgiving today and everyday.

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