Replacing Bitterness with Gratitude
I was standing with thousands of people last weekend in a packed stadium singing the national anthem and the tears just came. I stood united with thousands of people. People of every color and race. People who voted this way or that. People who were rooting for the Seattle Seahawks and the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite endless differences, there was a commonality that brought all these people together…the love of the game.
I was overwhelmed. I was touched. I was thankful.
I was moved watching grown, powerful and strong men link arms on the sidelines while the anthem was sung. They were a team not just individual players. They were stronger together, needing each other for success. They depended on each other.
As the game went on they celebrated each other’s success. They bumped chests, gave each other booty slaps, and danced together every time something good happened. They stayed energetic and hopeful even when failures came along.
I’m sure behind the scenes team dynamics are sometimes complicated and hard. Why do I know this? Because all relationships are complicated and hard. On a team, in a family, and just between two people.
I feel pressure to be thankful for the people in my life, especially now – during Thanksgiving week. But today, honestly, I have seeds of bitterness rattling around in my heart.
I’m flat out mad at someone I love. I’m frustrated at several people who matter a lot to me. If I’m really honest, I’m also irritated with some people I don’t even know. And I’m disappointed with how we are behaving as Americans.
These seeds of bitterness make me forget that I’m still part of: a team, a family, a community of people, a Nation.
Bitterness makes me believe my life would be better without people. But I can’t let myself stay here because I know bitter people just become more bitter until they eventually self-destruct.
Today I choose gratitude.
My hope is that you will choose gratitude over bitterness too.
Consider how meaningless, empty and pointless our lives would be without relationships. Relationships shape who we are today and who we are becoming. Without exception, every human being I know has been positively influenced by a team of people. Including me…including you.
Refuse to allow seeds of bitterness take root in your heart. Instead, be thankful for that team of people who have shaped and positively influenced your life.
Let your heart fill with thankfulness.
The Apostle Paul showed us what it looks like to be thankful for people. He said,
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In every prayer for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil 1:3-5).
Why was Paul thankful for people? A group of people – a church – was very generous in supporting Paul as he shared the gospel. Paul was thankful for everyone who linked arms with him. Together they accomplished more than any one of them could do on their own. Paul was thankful for this team of people who co-labored with him, mourned with him and rejoiced with him.
Instead of focusing on the things that went wrong, Paul made a choice to let gratitude fill his heart, even though things were difficult at times.
So, how can we be thankful people?
1) Tell the people in your life why you value them.
Acknowledge how they have shaped you, made you stronger, kinder, wiser and more like Jesus.
2) Be a team, not a player.
Celebrate all that is good because you are united – as a family, community, church and Nation.
3) Pray for each other.
The way we pray for each other influences how we treat each other.
In this Thanksgiving week – and always – make an intentional choice to let gratitude fill your heart and replace any seeds of bitterness hidden deep inside.
Please inspire me…tell me how you lived out thankfulness today!
Then go ahead and chest bump and booty slap your way through Thanksgiving as a role-model of thankfulness.
Join the conversation and please share what you think!
— Joy Roberts