Reality Check: The Thanksgiving Reminder

As I was standing behind the fine young plumber scrunched up under the sink, I joked, “I’m not really hovering over you; I’m just here for moral support.”
His response came as a surprise. Thoughtfully, seriously, he responded, “Everyone can use a little support.” He went on to say that encouragement helps us do our jobs. We know that this is true. But it’s not often openly spoken, and practicing it may be even rarer.
By the time you read this, Canadian Thanksgiving will have come and gone. For some, it will have been a day, or even a series of days, filled with great food and joyous celebration. Perhaps you were joined by dear family and friends, who contributed to fun, music, laughter, and yes, support and encouragement.
That won’t have been the case for everyone. It never is, nor will it ever be. Some people are in mourning, remembering past days with loved ones who no longer share their table. Some are in pain, physical or other. Some are filled with dread, whether it’s uncertainties in their lives or fears for people they love.
Though not as predictable and regular as the seasons of our natural world, our lives also seem to go through cycles. We have times of growth, accomplishment, recognition, good health, good friends. Those are the times when we easily satisfy our basic needs (security, power, freedom, fun, belonging.)
We see our future full of possibilities, and know that through our choices, we can shape our lives. When things are going well, it’s easy to come up with reasons to be thankful. We may still need a reminder to be thankful, but the reasons are there, perhaps showing themselves in the eyes of our children, in the bounty of the garden, in the warmth of home and friends.
There are other seasons in our lives as well. You know the ones—hard times, sad times, uncertain times. Being thankful can be harder then. We look around in pain and misery, and wonder, “Why me? Why do others have so much to be thankful for, and I don’t?”
Those are the times when we have to dig deep and purposefully to focus on what we do have, rather than what we don’t. To be grateful for even the smallest things—a kind word, a supportive gesture, a request for help—because even tiny connections show that we have purpose in our lives even during this low season.
There can be times when it’s a stretch to find something, anything, to be thankful for. If you know someone who is struggling with thankfulness, I’ll remind you of the words of my plumber: Everyone can use a little support. We have the ability to encourage someone, even if we don’t feel encouraged ourselves. It won’t do any harm, and it just may help the person you are encouraging. And being encouraging of others may also help you find encouragement yourself.
If being encouraging is new to you, it’ll probably feel awkward at first, even false. Like any new activity, it takes practice. But it’s worth a try.
What are you thankful for right now?

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