The holidays affect people in different ways. Some experiences are good, some are challenging, and some are just like other days of the year. I have struggled with the holidays for many years. I have never been able to pinpoint the reason. But, I am making steady progress. Thanksgiving seems to fit well in America. As Americans, we have more to be thankful for than any other people on Earth at any time in history. Yes, we face significant challenges. Our national debt is in the trillions, we are at war with radical Islam, and domestically we are polarized on many issues of the day. However, I try to remember that God is in charge. We can help our communities by making common sense decisions through electing responsible leaders. But, He is still “driving the bus.” We sometimes naturally worry and focus on what is wrong instead of being thankful for what God has given us. During the Thanksgiving holiday, and beyond, we can choose to be thankful for the many blessings that each of us has. Here are ten thoughts: 1. We live in America. Despite the problems our nation faces, there is not a better place to live;
2. We can choose to worship in our own way. I have a friend in a predominantly Muslim country right now risking his life to bring others to Christ. This person’s courage is unimaginable. For the most part, in America, we can choose how to worship, whether to worship, and when to worship without any interference from the government;
3. We can talk. We can use the written and spoken word with very limited exceptions. Generally, we can agree or disagree with others or the government without fear of being put in prison or being executed. While most of us take this for granted, there are many countries where people are jailed for their outspoken criticism of the government or religion;
4. We can travel. For the most part, citizens can live in any of the fifty states in the Union. If you don’t like the culture or laws in the deep South, move on the North Dakota or somewhere else;
5. We have freedom to succeed or fail. Each person defines what success is and what failure is. In America, nothing can hold a person back from becoming the person they want to be. We do not have a caste system, formal class system, feudal culture, or laws that exclude people based on race, religion, creed, etc. We have the right to pursue happiness in America. But, we do not have the right to happiness.
6. We have the freedom to elect governmental officials to represent us. This is a tricky and very controversial area. But, the bottom line is that the vast majority of Americans can vote. We choose our leaders. But, these choices do have consequences;
7. We live in the safest place on Earth. There are many factors that contribute to this sense of peace. For example, we still have a strong military presence in the world, a criminal justice system, while can be improved, is the best in the world, and an armed citizenry. Many other places in the world have experienced civil war, border warfare, or genocide for many years;
8. We have the United States Constitution. This one document, signed by most of our Founding Fathers, is the guiding and governing instruction manual for life in America. It is interpreted every day by judges across the land without widespread violence and death resulting from decisions rendered in cases;
9. We are a land made of good men and women. While we are very polarized by some of the current issues of the day, most people can “agree to disagree.” That has been my experience. We all want to improve our country. We just disagree on how to do that. That is when elections have consequences; and
10. Perhaps the thing I am most thankful for is that I know God loves me and everyone else. He is our heavenly father as I am Jake and Reagan’s earthly father. This love is unconditional. While good works and living a good life is very commendable, God loves us no matter what.
Maybe some of these thoughts will be discussed around the Thanksgiving tables across the nation. Thank you God, for accepting me the way You made me.