Thanksgiving should be a time of celebrating the holiday with family and friends. Eating a feast of delicious food, while reflecting on what you are thankful for!
Unfortunately, for a lot of people Thanksgiving is filled with additional stress as people strive to please others (sometimes those “others” are difficult family members who are demanding and critical). People often end up feeling like they don’t have much to be thankful for, as their lives are filled with stress and chaos which leaves them feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and hopeless. This holiday season, learn some coping strategies to not feel overwhelmed so things won’t affect your emotional and mental health.
Here are 4 ways to keep your perspective “THANKFUL” this Thanksgiving:
1. Make a Plan
Make a plan ahead of time on how to keep your Thanksgiving as “peaceful and calm” as possible.
Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful!”
Whether you are the one hosting a Thanksgiving meal or just bringing 2 perfectly baked homemade pies to the dinner, it can be a hectic and draining process. Give yourself grace and try your best to manage stressful situations that may arise with a peaceful calm attitude so that those around you see Jesus come out of you, instead of the opposite!
I still vividly remember as a child, my mom having a meltdown that ruined Thanksgiving because she forgot to put the sugar in the pumpkin pies that she was bringing to our cousin’s house for dinner. My mom, who was a very good cook, got flustered making them because she was aiming for perfection to impress my aunt who was an excellent cook.
Those pies looked fancy and delicious on the outside, but inside they were bitter and gross! My mom was so embarrassed that she got mad, and we promptly left our cousin’s house as the day was ruined over bitter pies! Sadly, until my mom’s dying day over 30 years later, she never forgot those dreadful pies
WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
You have a choice in how to respond: My mom responded poorly when the pies were bitter, and it ruined the whole Thanksgiving for a lot of people. She had a choice that day, and she chose to be angry and frustrated.
I encourage you to keep things in perspective this Thanksgiving Day and be prepared for some things to not go as planned and choose to BE OKAY when some things are NOT OKAY! Choose to let things go, keep your peace, and focus on God’s bountiful blessings with a thankful heart!
And remember as it says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
The enemy wants to steal your God given peace and ruin your attitude of gratitude!
Don’t let him ruin your Thanksgiving. Pre-plan to keep a thankful heart posture no matter what flaming arrows the enemy may fire your way…
2. WHAT ARE YOU FOCUSED ON THIS THANKSGIVING?
Are your daily circumstances overwhelming you? Are you starting to feel stressed out and dreading the thought of having to celebrate a day of THANKS when you feel empty, drained, and exhausted? DOES YOUR FOCUS NEED TO BE REFOCUSED? Take a deep breath “grasshopper” and refocus (a nod to Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid).
Wise words from Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Wouldn’t it be amazing to have PERFECT PEACE this Thanksgiving?
The Bible teaches us to renew our minds with His truth and to focus on Him, to get our eyes off our circumstance. I encourage you to start thinking about “What you are thinking about” and see if your mind is clogged up with negative thoughts (what I love to refer to as “stinking thinking“).
Ask yourself some questions:
What are you focused on? Are your thoughts consuming your mind? Are your thoughts causing fear and anxiety? Does everything seem out of control? Do your circumstances feel hopeless and negative thoughts consume your mind? Are you a people pleaser, and yet the people you try to please treat you badly, and it leaves you feeling frustrated?
Do you have negative self-talk:
I will never ____.
I am not good at ____.
I am not lovable because ____.
God must be disappointed in me because ____.
I hate myself because ____.
The antidote to stinking thinking is found in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
If you are experiencing anxiety, fear and negative self-talk that is consuming your mind, there is help through counseling. Meeting with a Christ-centered counselor can help you process through the things that you struggle with and help give you a Godly perspective on how to quiet down your thought life. Counseling with a Biblical perspective can change the way you focus on your circumstance, to bring HIS peace back into your life.
This Thanksgiving, if you are in a place where life is hitting you hard and your thoughts and circumstances are crushing your Thankfulness, I encourage you to reach out for help so you can develop long-term strategies to help you cope.
Focus on caring for yourself well by being gentle with yourself. Try to decrease the stress and demands in your life as much as you can – ask friends and family to help ease your burden and think about how to do self-care like going for long walks, reading a good book, staying off social media, listening to worship music / Christian podcasts, or simply taking a long hot relaxing bath!
Care for yourself so that you can relate to others from a more peaceful God focused place in your life…
Start a prayer journal if you don’t already have one, and be mindful of writing prayers of thanks to God for the blessings in your life, be it big or small. He blesses us every day, but sometimes we are so focused on our circumstances that we don’t see the blessings.
3. DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE COMPARISON / ENVY GAME THIS THANKSGIVING
Theodore Roosevelt wisely said, “Comparison is the thief of Joy!” – can I get an AMEN?
This Thanksgiving, do not get trapped in the sinful game of comparing yourself to others or letting envy crouch at the doorstep of your heart.
Galatians 6:4-5 clearly speaks to the trap of comparison: “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”
The Bible makes staying away from envy very clear in James 3:14-15, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, and unspiritual.”
One of the quickest ways to get discoursed and quickly trapped in the sin of envy is to compare yourself to others. When the holidays roll around and people throw lavish meals with their houses decorated to perfection, it can be hard to not compare yourself to others who appear to have more, are perfect decorators and excellent cooks who plan amazing meals! And let’s not even start with how SOCIAL MEDIA promotes the false narrative of the PERFECT THANKSGIVING DINNER TABLE!
This Thanksgiving, and the rest of the upcoming holiday season, remember this important truth – God uniquely created you in His image and for HIS Glory. He has a specific plan for you, and you will not accomplish that plan by comparing yourself to others. Don’t let the enemy steal your peace and joy by getting trapped in the pit of comparison and envy!
Proverbs 14:30 says; “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” I for one, will choose a heart at peace over rotting bones any day!
If you feel the canine of comparison and envy nipping at your heels, this Thanksgiving STOP YOURSELF and purposely choose to COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, and not focus on the blessings of someone else!
4. WE ALL HAVE THAT “ONE” RELATIVE WHO ALWAYS ACTS LIKE A “TURKEY” AT THANKSGIVING
Can I get a witness about that one relative that loves to get under everyone’s skin? Or it could be the “FRIEND” who always shows up at special events to stir up drama. If you can’t relate to having these types of people in your life, then you are truly blessed, and you have something huge to be grateful for!
If you do encounter a person at your Thanksgiving table who causes you to lose your witness, be prepared in advance on how to handle them with grace-filled truth and not let them ruin your day of giving THANKS!
As you prepare to potentially face dealing with difficult people this Thanksgiving, ponder these wise Scriptures about how to be God-honoring in your encounters with people who stir up strife:
Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Proverbs 13:3 “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.”
Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Proverbs 15:1-2 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”
Did you happen to notice that the verses above are focused on how to control yourself when dealing with others? The truth is YOU CAN’T CONTROL OTHERS, BUT YOU CAN CONTROL YOURSELF!
This Thanksgiving and at upcoming holiday events, if you encounter a difficult person, try to be gentle, kind and calm – but if that fails, remove yourself from the conversation graciously so you can keep the focus on being thankful despite the situation that is meant to steal your peace and joy.
Have a BLESSED THANKSGIVING!
Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”
Credit | Lynne Schlottman
Lead Care Counselor
🎨 Credit | Maddie Brouwer