As we prepared for the Thanksgiving holiday two years ago, we decided to have No Complaining Week. We wore green ribbons on our wrists to remind us to be grateful, to not complain. If someone did complain, however, he had to wear the Cone of Shame (modeled above by Maura) and could not speak for two minutes. You can read about our experiment and see photos here, here, and here.
While we’re not doing that again this year, I’m ever mindful that we have much for which to be thankful–and that I often fail appreciate it. I’m more sensitive to this now since our family has changed so much in the past two years.
This morning I read from Paul’s letter to the Romans. The opening verses of chapter 12 make an appropriate preface to Thanksgiving.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.