And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19, BSB.
Later this month, many of us will sit down to an abundant meal on Thanksgiving day. Many of us will stay up and go shopping in the middle of the night for black Friday. Many people will spend the day on the internet shopping and buying that day as well. Many others will continue shopping for cyber Monday. Tuesday some people will make donations to charitable entities.
This year, this month I am abstaining from all of the more and I am challenging myself to less. For us we’re making this is a month of gratitude for the things we already have. We’re also doing a month of less. Less spending, less doing, less crazy, less consuming.
Back in January, I chose a word for the year. The idea is not to just choose some random, arbitrary word. The word is a place to direct your focus, a word to pour intention and energy into. It can be an area to improve, to find balance, or to do more of. This year my word was stewardship.
Stewardship means to take care of something. I haven’t always been a good steward of my things, my money, my time, my body, and my energy. This year, I am learning to slow down, to do less, to pay attention. I am learning to focus in on the things I have and appreciate them more. I am trying to want less. I succeed sometimes and I fail sometimes.
What I have noticed is that when I have extra I appreciate it less. When the shutdown happened, I was upset because I had extra; my life was interrupted. I had extra time to be unemployed. I had extra time to sit at home with my family when I’d rather share with my friends. I had extra time on my hands that I didn’t appreciate as much as I should have. I have had extra money and extra energy. Looking back I’d like to have stewarded those things better. That’s why we’re spending the next two months being present and stewarding what we have.
I’m not passing judgment on all the shopping and eating and fun. I’ve done those things for the past several years. I’ve just spent the last two months looking around the house at all the things. I have many things, too many things really. All of these things God has made possible and he has provided to me. I am grateful because of where I came from.
I grew up poor. We sometimes did not have enough. When I became an adult, I often struggled to provide and worried that there wouldn’t be enough. When I was 19 my son was born. I was unmarried and unemployed. When I went back to work I made slightly more than minimum wage. It might have been something like $7.00 an hour. There was always enough. Later, when I left my abuser I lived in public housing and received public assistance. I worked and went to school. There was still enough.
When I was finished with school I had three degrees and no savings. I started a solo practice when I was laid off and could not get a job. There was enough. Then I went back to school, ran a small law business, and worked a part-time job. There was enough. When my business failed and the country shut down for a pandemic. There was enough.
When I look back, there is often no explanation as to how there was always enough. The lights were on, the cabinets and refrigerator were full. There were shoes and clothes and diapers. There was time to study and time to have family fun. There was always enough. The only explanation is that God provided for all my needs from his glorious riches.
This is why I am grateful. But I want to steward these last two months of 2020 better. That’s why during this month, I am paying attention. I am paying attention to all that God has done for me. When I am taking space for rest and breath and love, I also pause to say thank you for enough. Each of the things in my life has been given to me and I am grateful for all of it.
I think sometimes we forget. Sometimes we get focused in on the hard things or the things that fell through or that didn’t work out. Sometimes there’s not what I want now but only in hindsight can I be thankful for that. Sometimes there is heartbreak and sadness and depression that I wish I didn’t have. I get focused in on all of those things and I forget that I am blessed.
In my heart I offer up a prayer of thanksgiving this day, this month, this year. In this season where life doesn’t look like we want it to, if we pause and look around, there’s still something to be thankful for. What are you grateful for this season?
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