Thanksgiving is one day or maybe a month during which we focus on feasting and being thankful. Thanksgiving is also the first day of the holiday rush. I get so bogged down that by the time the holidays are over I’m worn out, and the idea of making New Year’s resolutions seems overwhelming. So this year I decided to determine my goals for 2016 early in connection with Thanksgiving. My goal for 2016 is to practice Thanks Living. The following quote outlines the essence of Thanks Living.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God,
which is why we call it the present.” ― Bill Keane
Having the right perspective on yesterday, today, and tomorrow helps me practice Thanks Living. At first I thought I would put my ideas into one blog post but the more I thought and prayed about it, I decided to write three blogs dealing with what it means to experience Thanks Living.
Yesterday is History
What do we do with the past? We’ve all been through some tough times. We’ve been hurt by the actions of others. We’ve made some bad choices. Is it possible to make peace with our past? According to a youtube video called The Josh Speaks, the first step to dealing with the past is to remember it. In other words don’t stuff bad memories and paper over them with some addiction that only adds to your difficulties today. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of your past. Dwell on past events and wrongs and they grow bigger, more powerful, and destroy today’s potential for happiness. What you feed is what will grow.
Writing down past memories is very therapeutic. When I wrote my memoir Born Three Times, I examined my past in great detail. There were some things I enjoyed remembering and some painful experiences that I wanted to forget. But as I looked at the totality of my life, it became clear that the person I am today is the result of the good, bad, and ugly of the past. I saw how God has used all the details of my life to grow me in my Christian life.
Is your past so painful you can’t overcome its negative effects? Consider getting the help of a friend or a professional that can help provide you with positive coping skills. Being able to put the past behind us is also good for our health. Carrying grudges or hurts leads to stress and high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other negative side effects that hurt our minds and bodies.
Learning how to forgive the past is also good for us spiritually. The Bible tells us how important it is for us to forgive.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15
Wow! I want to be forgiven by God, don’t you? I don’t want to have to give an account for every ugly word, or action, or thought I’ve had. So I must ask God to help me forgive those who hurt me in the past. We just recently cleaned out our bedroom closet. It had been way too long and the collection of dusty boxes and dust bunnies was a little overwhelming. It was also time to sort clothes and discard what no longer fit. Now that it’s done, I enjoy going into the closet to choose what to wear for the day. Forgiving the past is like cleaning out a dirty and dusty closet. You don’t like to stir things up, but once it is clean and you let stuff go, you find freedom.
“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” ~Jean Paul Sartre
Begin practicing Thanks Living this month as you prepare for the holiday season and stay tuned for my next blog post “Tomorrow is a Mystery.”