Me, Myself and My Fish
Some time ago, I noticed that one of my sons was busy in his room, working on a project. He soon emerged and presented to me a framed collage of pictures he had put together. At first glance, I loved it – what a sweet group of all his fishing pictures! He and a big fish, he and a little fish, he and his fishing rod…they were all GREAT.
However, it didn’t take me long to notice one odd thing: there was no one else in the collage besides my son and his fish. Although he had a stack of other pictures to choose from, he chose the ones that featured him and him alone. All the evidence of the helping hands that enabled him to catch those fish were curiously passed over.
I paused, trying to find the words to affirm my 10-year-old’s efforts, while gently correcting this lean toward self-centeredness. “I love this collage! These are some great pictures. Look at you and all those fish! But…I was just thinking…do you remember who made that day happen for you?
Do you remember how excited Grandpa was to take you out? Do you remember how thrilled he was to teach you how to hold the rod? Do you remember how he cheered you on as you reeled that big fish in? Do you remember son?
My son looked a little sheepish, nodded and smiled, and then easily recalled the great day they shared together. He really was grateful to his grandpa and happily found a picture of the two of them together. He made adjustments in his collage to reflect the true story of how he came to conquer all those fish, and we both liked it much better in the end. A lesson learned.
Although we adults are often more subtle, I’m afraid we do the very same thing with God. Instead of gratefully remembering the hands that have blessed us, we frame the pictures of our lives in a similar way – me and my family, me and my house, me and my work, me and my fun…me and my story. Sometimes I wonder, where is our humble gratitude?
I am reminded of this especially at Thanksgiving. Of all holidays, this should easily be a time of natural humility, a joyful time of expressing our profound gratitude to God.
But is it?
I am amazed at how little reverence is shown to our wonderful God this time of year, the Maker of Heaven and earth…the Giver of every good gift! Sadly, we live in a time when it is considered weak to acknowledge that we are not the center of the world. Just like my son’s collage, this self-focus leads us to a silence toward God that I find strange! How we are missing out on the joy of gratefully thanking God!
It’s amazing how easy it is for me to link the gift with the giver when one of my children surprises me. What a joy to occasionally find my bed turned down at bed time, a sweet little note and maybe a handful of skittles on my pillow. I feel so loved! But I have to say, the best part is not the candy or even the tender misspelled words. It’s the shy eyes peeking around the corner, waiting for me to notice their thoughtful surprise. I turn around and can hardly wait to grab my little schemer and pour on the hugs.
On the flip side, I can’t imagine my child’s disappointment if I read the note, gobbled up my candy and went to sleep!
And yet, I wonder why I sometimes don’t as easily link the gifts of God with the Giver himself. It grieves me to think about how God pours out His kindness day after day, night after night, and yet, even still, I might get dull to His generosity. I suppose it’s because, like my young son making his collage, its easier to dwell on the blessings than on the Giver of the blessings. Somehow, I forget that everything I enjoy is from God’s hand, that I would have nothing, that I would be nothing without Him (Acts 17:28 “In Him we live and move and have our being”). It seems silly, and perhaps understandable, coming from a child, but what about when I do the same thing?
How I need to be reminded of God’s abundant goodness! How I want to stay in a posture of humility and gratitude at Thanksgiving – and all the time!
So, moms, let’s make our homes set-apart, overflowing with joyful thanks to God this Thanksgiving. I encourage you to teach your children that God alone is the Giver of every good gift. Teach them that He sustains all things – every blade of grass, every colorful fall leaf, every beam of sunlight, every change of tide, every taste bud, every beat of your heart (Heb. 1:3 “He (Christ) upholds the universe by his power”). Help them understand that Thanksgiving is so much more than just “Turkey Day” and football.
It’s about giving thanks to our wonderful God. As you teach your children, may your own heart be uplifted and filled with joyful, God-centered gratitude. What a fitting way to prepare for the beautiful season on the horizon…when we will celebrate God’s greatest gift of all – His Son!
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – James 3:17
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.- 1 Chron. 16:34
Suggestions from our family at Thanksgiving:
- At Thanksgiving we do an extended version of the “Thank you God” game. We put two or three pennies at each place setting at Thanksgiving Dinner and then we pass around a small pretty fall bowl. My husband starts it after everyone has eaten. He just shares that this is a moment to reflect and thank God. Each time the bowl is passed to you, you put in a penny and share something you thank God for from the past year. Everyone enjoys getting a chance to share and I love that the focus turns to God. This absolutely makes Thanksgiving dinner for me!! If it is too hectic at the table, this is also nice with dessert in the family room.
- We make fall place mats with colorful fall pictures and scripture verses about thanking God. Sometimes I interview my kids and write down what they thank God for on the placemat.
- Make the beautiful fall tree with colorful “Thankful leaves”. See M.O.M.S. on facebook. Get creative!