Monday Musings: Gratitude

This past week was Thanksgiving, so I’ve been reflecting and reading on topics of gratitude and stewardship, being thankful for all that we have  and putting it to use in ways that demonstrate that gratitude.  I’ve been enjoying reading Christine Pohl’s most recent brilliant work, “Living Into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us” and the first section examines the practice of gratitude.

Reading about gratitude I find myself thinking of all of the ungracious people I have encountered in my life, and in this work, and saying internally “I wonder what it would be like if we could just get this figured out and fixed!  I’m so tired of people being so ungracious towards one another.”

WHOOPS.

In sweeps my own ingratitude, my own wistfulness and searching for something more, better, or different.  It is good and right to have a dream and a vision for a better future but when these things cost us a heart of gratitude or impoverish our ability to give thanks, we fall prey to what Kevin Rains (Vineyard Central Church) calls “spiritual pornography . . . creating a mental fantasy of a perfect place or people and not recognizing the good things all around me.”  This world and the relationships and experiences we have here was not created merely as an object of our pleasure and consumption.

There is no perfect community.
There is no perfect ministry or outreach.
There is no perfect family.
There is no perfect church.
There is no perfect relationship, or marriage, or friendship.
There is no perfect spiritual life.

So, in a season where we all consume more than we ought in food, let us not fall victim to the mentality that all of this around us is created for our hedonism.  Conversely, let us remember that having a heart of gratitude is not created by ignoring the presence of dysfunction, shortcomings, and disappointments present in our selves, our communities and our relationships.  Instead, let us realize that true joy comes even in the midst of the disappointments, remembering how much good we have in comparison to all that is bad, and embracing the ways we always have much more over which to celebrate than to complain.

What are you grateful for?

Thanksgiving

We are called to Thanksgiving this week, and so, here I give you mine.

As Executive Director of LOVEboldly, I have much for which to be thankful:

  • For my leader and Savior who has redeemed my life and who shows me His immeasurable goodness and faithfulness daily.
  • For my LOVEboldly co-leaders: Justin, a man of conviction and spirit whose example encourages and challenges me to live in the same way: simply and giving freely, modeling community, loving and serving family, and trying to be like Jesus.  Christy, who demonstrates unmatched boldness in facing her fears that others might benefit, whose love and dedication to the Lord and to his leadership in her life reminds me of my own need to submit every piece of me to Him, and whose honesty about her own questions and struggle inspire me to be more honest about my own.  I am so thankful for the ways they both bring life and fellowship and FUN to the work of LOVEboldly, and to me in particular when I need it the most.
  • For the ways all of you have welcomed me into your families, your joys and sadnesses, and your confidences, questions, fears, hurt, and frustrations with the Christian faith community.
  • For the ways all of you have welcomed me into your families, your joys and sadnesses, and your confidences, questions, fears, hurt, and frustrations with the LGBT community.
  • For the incredible blessing of serving as Executive Director, and watching as many of my hopes and dreams for the LGBT community and the church have unfolded into reality as hearts grow and are transformed.
  • For each act of grace and hospitality that has been extended to us and to our message, and for each story I’ve been privileged to hear and share in.
  • For my faithful critics, who speak to me with dignity, decency, and civility, while still calling me to account for my missteps or oversights.
  • For my unfaithful critics, whose painful words or actions give me opportunity to practice what I preach and show me how easy it is to fail at it.
  • For the incredible support we’ve received from you all – through words, advice, volunteer service, dollars, and prayers.

I am so thankful, everlastingly grateful, for the enormous pleasure of the work of LOVEboldly, and for each of you who have shared in it.

THANKS.