I’ll admit, when I first heard the word “habitude” from my pastor recently, I thought he’d made it up. Did you know habitude is a real word? Well it is, and here’s what it means: a habitual tendency or way of behaving. Basically our attitude habits. (Go figure, right?)
Thanksgiving is upon us and it’s been a crazy year. Even the most naturally optimistic of us might have developed some…uh…not-so-optimistic attitudes over the course of 2020. But it’s time to change our habitudes; time to line them up with God’s perspective.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Your first response might be one of resistance. Surely he can’t honestly mean we should be thankful in ALL circumstances, right? What about the death of a loved one? A lost job? An estranged relationship? What about the sadness that comes with life-long holiday traditions being changed for the first time? What is there to be thankful for in the depths of difficulty?
My answer is this: God doesn’t list exceptions, he says all. He wants us to express gratitude regardless of our situations. In a recent sermon on gratitude my pastor explained it something like this: We have our nose to the billboard of life. How much of the big picture can we see with our nose against the billboard? A few square inches at best? We can’t see the whole picture right now, but we believe through faith and scripture that God is working out our difficulties for our good and for his glory.
What I’m certainly not trying to say is that we should be happy about all the hard things. Of course there’s a time for mourning, grief, and sadness; we’re only human, and even Jesus himself felt these emotions. But as Christians with the added benefit of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have to be defeated by our circumstances. We can grieve and mourn while praising God for his blessings and goodness at the same time. Does that sound like a contradiction? I don’t believe it is.
So what can we find to be thankful for when hard times surround us? I suggest you get some good old-fashioned paper and make a list.
Laughter. Food. Family and friends. Provision. Books. Space heaters. Facetime and Zoom. The way God turns bad things into good. Church, even when it is online. That’s just the start of mine. You’ll have plenty of your own, I’m sure, once you stop to think about it.
Writing down the things you’re grateful for has power. It makes them seem more real and gives you a reminder every time you see it.
Philippians 2:14 says this,
“Do everything without complaining or arguing…”
Sorry/not sorry for this last verse. Sometimes the last thing we want to do in such an unfair world is to give up complaining. Complaining is our way of expressing to others just how hard we have it; we’re fishing for understanding and sympathy whether we know it or not. But guess what. Everybody else has their own things to complain about, so we’re probably not getting very far on the sympathy train.
What if we all did an experiment? What if, this week specifically, we all tried to eliminate complaining from our vocabulary? What if we took every negative thought captive and replaced it instead with a gratitude? We have much to be thankful for, even if we have to dig deep to find it.
If we can deliberately take note of our negative attitudes, we can deliberately transform them into positivity. We can change our habitudes with God’s direction and strength to help us. Imagine what this unnatural 2020 holiday season could look like if we did just that.
Quick update from my neck of the woods. I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference virtually last week and was humbled that my novel, POWER UP, won a second place Selah Award (these awards recognize excellent writing in the Christian market). Equally exciting, my current historical romance manuscript won second place in the Foundations Awards (which recognize excellent writing specifically by conference attendees). I can’t even begin to tell you how much of my heart and soul have gone into these projects, so it was a thrilling night, to say the least. Thanks to each of you for your support! Praying you have a blessed Thanksgiving week!