Things I am having a hard time being thankful for… Midterms. The dentist. Cold. Tiredness. Jet lag. Chaos. Traffic. Messy rooms.
The things that are easy to give thanks for… Cookies. Hot cocoa. Friends. College acceptance letters. The Grinch. Fuzzle fuzz. Wood fires. Icicles. Quiet evenings. Lights. Hot showers.
In the midst of all the craziness of of the Christmas season, I am trying to be thankful for all the things I have been given. I find it so easy to get wrapped up in the quest to find “the perfect gift” for each person on my list. Even today I was getting stressed about not being able to think of gift ideas for certain people. There’s pressure to get lights up, decorate the house, attend parties, go to performances, make dozens of cookies… all of these things that our society tells us makes the perfect holiday.
All of the time we hear how money doesn’t create happiness. It’s a nice sentiment, to be sure. But do we really believe it? I didn’t. I believed it in my head, but not in my heart. In my heart I still believed that happiness comes along with wealth.
For 10 days I was in the midst of real poverty. I saw little kids with bloated stomachs from malnutrition. I saw children wearing ill-fitting shoes and the same dirty clothes. I heard a toddler crying because he was hungry. I heard a precious girl ask me for a sip of water. But I also felt the hugs of those same children who had nothing. I watched them care for their younger siblings with selflessness. I saw their faces light up with joy as they danced in worship. Yes, it sounds cliché, but I have never experienced such contentment, gratitude, and… happiness.
Fast forward a week. Here I am. Back in the States. With all the modern conveniences and comforts that I could ever ask for. And yet I still find myself concerned with wearing a cute outfit for the Christmas Eve service, buying “perfect gifts” for my family and friends, and arguing with my siblings over the last M&M cookie. On Sunday morning in our worship, we prayed that God would show us how to be happy as His children. Shouldn’t that be a given? But it’s not. Even I, who experienced true happiness, cannot remember to be grateful. I get caught up in the hubbub and pressure of an American holiday. And so, my wish this Christmas is that I would never take a single gift for granted. May I never question God’s sovereignty and love. And may I forever remember those precious children dancing before their Savior.