Itâ€™s happened to all of us. You unwrap a gift from a loved one and itâ€™s about as far off the mark as it could be. (Hopefully this has never happened when it was a gift purchased at Lehmanâ€™s!)
How can you thank someone for a gift you didnâ€™t want and donâ€™t like? You donâ€™t have the emotion required to give your words meaning, and you canâ€™t fake it with a loved one.
Now imagine the other extreme. Your doorbell rings late at night and itâ€™s a stranger returning your 16-year-old safely home after what could have been a deadly car accident.
Take it a step further and imagine that this Good Samaritan pulled your child from a burning car. How can you thank them enough? The emotions are so huge, so powerful and so consuming that donâ€™t have the words required to express your gratefulness.
This Thanksgiving comes after a stretch of uncertainty that may have your emotions running the gamut. If things have gone right for you, it might be hard to put your gratefulness into words. On the other hand, if youâ€™ve lost your job, had your financial security threatened or lost your health, it might be hard to be thankful for anything.
At the very least, these tough economic times exaggerate our emotions. Uncertainty adds fuel to our stress and doubt to our success. To some extent, though, this is true every Thanksgiving. Letâ€™s face it, life is full of challenges.
On the other hand, my experience is that life can be full of rewards, too. This is especially true if we live our lives focused on meaning, values and relationships rather than achievements.
But, no matter what I am focused on, I have to admit that I often feel little of the overflowing gratitude that I think we are supposed to have. The truth is, I often feel guilty about it.
If youâ€™re facing this same emptiness, here’s what I think we both need.
First, letâ€™s admit weâ€™re not perfect. I know I ought to be more grateful. I suppose thatâ€™s a part of the human experience, and something we all must acknowledge sooner or later.
Second, cancel the guilt. (Easier said than done, eh?) But, letâ€™s face it, gratitude is an emotion. It just happens. We can’t turn gratitude on like flipping a light switch.
Finally, I think we need to realize that our giving thanks may have to be an act of the head and will, rather than heart and emotion. In the end, we may need to give thanks from our minds when our emotions simply arenâ€™t there.
Weâ€™ve lost a lot of good things over the last year. But, I hope that there is still lots to be thankful for in your life. My prayer for you and your family is that you can experience warmth, love and safety this Thanksgiving.
May your holiday season be filled with all that makes life worth living!
Galen Lehman, President, Lehman’s
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This weekâ€™s blog posting was inspired by the sermon I heard on Sunday from Larry Augsburger.