“A bit of gratitude for the past goes a long way to redeem the past. The therapy is in the thanks. Thanks therapy is God’s prescription for joy.” -Ann Voskamp
When writer Ann Voskamp was able to look back and find things that she was thankful for in her broken relationship with her mom, she was able to move into the future with her mom in a new way. She shares many lessons about her road to thankfulness in her weekly blog and in her books: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are and The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas.
A recent Harvard University study, and many other studies coming out of the field of positive psychology, shows that gratitude/thankfulness makes us MORE generous, MORE happy, MORE resilient, MORE kind, MORE healthy and LESS anxious, LESS depressed, LESS isolated, and LESS angry. (Yes, I realize that I could have written happier, kinder and healthier above, but I wanted to stress the MORE part!)
These are great findings, but being thankful does even more for our spirits: Being thankful is our most effective tool against the darkness (the darkness in our world and the darkness in our hearts). Being thankful unites us with God and connects us to each other as the body of Christ.
We are in the season of Advent. Advent is the season where we wait for the coming of Christ. It is the darkest season of the year. The days are short, and the nights are long. Advent can get swallowed up by preparations for Christmas, and many concerns can fill our hearts.
This year, let’s remember Ann Voskamp’s advice as we move through Advent toward Christmas:
“Thanks therapy is God’s prescription for joy.”
What are you thankful for RIGHT NOW?
Here are some things that I am thankful for when I think about our church family:
❖ I am thankful for all the ways that God mobilizes people to give and serve and grow in this congregation. The joy and willingness to pitch in is a beautiful thing to be a part of! Every event – from worship to administrative tasks – takes an army of passionate people to make it happen.
❖ I am thankful that we have every age group present and active in our congregation – from new babies to wise elders, and every age in between. I am thankful for the support that I see between people going through the stresses of different stages of life.
❖ I am thankful that people show up for each other at church. I believe God is working through our caring conversations about issues like loneliness, infertility, aging, chronic pain, depression, addiction, parenting adult children, etc.
Thank you for letting God use you to shine a light for others who need it this Advent and Christmas season. I am thankful for each of you!
God’s Peace, Pastor Mary