Links Daily Devotional

A Restoration of Thanksgiving

In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18, AMP)

When I went away to college, traveling the 1,100 miles back to Idaho for Thanksgiving with my family was not an option. The traditions I had known for 18 years began to disappear and morph into disjointed droplets of angst. As the years slipped by, I started to convince myself that this one Thursday in November was not that big of a deal. Instead of enjoying the turkey and stuffing, I dined on aloofness and bitterness for the holiday.

…the Spirit of the Lord living within my heart continues to invite me out of the pit of bitterness and risk, moving me toward my longings for connection and belonging.During my years as a nomadic tour professional, especially as a single woman, I struggled with not really knowing where I belonged. This feeling always intensified around Thanksgiving, and in subtle ways it still does today. Regardless of where my physical body showed up, I was emotionally absent. I sabotaged the very thing I desired—belonging—with my art of disconnection.

My bitterness for Thanksgiving hit an all-time high late in my career when I decided to go back to Qualifying School to improve my priority list position. The five-day tournament was held on my home course the week after Thanksgiving. I felt deflated about returning to Q-School, and my desire to celebrate Thanksgiving tumbled into an abyss. My resistance left me saying no to joining a family who treated me like one of their own and settling for eating chocolate cream pie…alone.

I can name many reasons to justify dumping my thankfulness down the garbage chute, back then and still today, but the Spirit of the Lord living within my heart continues to invite me out of the pit of bitterness and risk, moving me toward my longings for connection and belonging.

Thankfulness requires a level of vulnerability that creates a feeling of being out of control and uncertain; but this same vulnerability also leads us to deeper experiences of joy. Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean our struggles and hurts disappear, but it does turn our hearts back to Jesus and his gift of our eternal belonging. When I allow myself to rest in this truth, I find more courage to receive the invitations for connection and belonging from others. This can feel both good and scary because when we open our heart to our longings, we also open the door for disappointment.

Regardless of the life situations you and I are experiencing as we gather for Thanksgiving, I pray we will remain mindful of Paul’s exhortation to give thanks in all circumstances. I am keenly aware of my capacity to numb my broken heart with old bitterness. But this year, I’m going to choose to continually be thankful. In my thankfulness I will also offer my presence (my heart, my face, and my words) and find joy in my belonging.

Tracy Hanson
November 25, 2015
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.