by Meredith Berger ~

Reading my Mom’s blog last week reminded me how important is it to find a reason to be thankful even when it feels like everything is falling apart. This mentality of giving thanks is not isolated to Thanksgiving, and we are called to live it throughout the rest of the year as well.

This is especially important over the Christmas season, when travel, work and family obligations can become more stressful than exciting, and life begins to feel hectic. Any small thing that goes wrong during this particularly demanding time can feel worse than normal, and can make you forget all that you’re thankful for.

Recently, I lost my wallet – again (there’s a whole separate blog I wrote on that in February). It was a heartbreaking loss and I was sobbing – sobbing! Can you believe that? It seems so silly now, but in the moment I was out buying Christmas gifts, was not nearly done, and lost all my money and cards. The thought of ordering new cards and postponing my errands was devastating. I eventually accepted the wrench in my plans, and replaced all the contents. A few days later the wallet was returned to me using the address on my business cards, with everything in it untouched. I felt so ashamed for having cursed (in my head) the person who “stole” my wallet. I felt guilty for fuming over the situation and not finding a single thing to be happy about over those few days. Even if the wallet hadn’t been returned, I should have realized sooner that being angry and upset wouldn’t solve anything. I could have ordered my new credit card, continued my day exploring the Christmas market and taking notes, and come back the next week to finish shopping. I could have enjoyed the company I was in, and my surroundings, but instead I threw my hands up and gave up on the day.

C.S. Lewis once said, “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

I certainly felt contempt (although, unwarranted in this case) but more importantly I saw how impatient I was and quick to anger. In James 1:19-20 we read that we should be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”  When the wallet is gone and things are falling apart, we can be thankful because it is an opportunity to grow in these inconvenient and frustrating moments, and refresh our eternal perspective.

Last week, I was home baking Christmas cookies with my Mom. We were so excited to make this specific cookie, and I had been talking it up for a while. Well, if you know anything about me, you certainly know I’m a ‘mess’ in the kitchen. Long story short, the cookies came out with twice as much vanilla and sugar as the recipe called for. They were ruined, and it was now 9PM the day before I was flying out to take the highly touted cookies back to my friends in DC.  Instead of throwing my hands up though, my Mom and I started over and just made it work. In this situation, my calmness and gratefulness outweighed my stress, and I’ll look back fondly on this memory of baking with my Mom. This season, and for the rest of the year, I hope you too develop patience and gratitude in troubling and difficult times, and then carry it through into the New Year.

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