I’m trying to press pause this month.
Press a reset button. Remind myself to take a deep breath. Remember the things I’m thankful for. And rejoice.
Rejoice is one of those words that can be a little lost in translation. I tried explaining it the other day. The word was on a Christmas card. But why do we only see it at Christmas? It seems a little appropriate for Thanksgiving, too. And maybe for January through October as well.
The Apostle wrote it like this in a letter to the church at Philippi: “Rejoice. Again, I say rejoice.”
I don’t want to take you back to English class, but for a little minute, let’s just go there and pretend like we are all learning the complexities of the English language again. “Re” is a prefix meaning “again or back.” So when you put it in front of a word, it means to do it again or go back and repeat.
Take joy. And go back and take it again.
And as though the word said once wasn’t enough, that verse in a letter written over two thousand years ago says go back and take joy. And go back and take it again.
Maybe joy is given, but maybe sometimes you have to go back to where joy was found and make sure you take it again. There’s a little bit of action you need to take in order to find joy.
It’s an appropriate word for Thanksgiving because the more I remember what I’m thankful for, my joy increases. Thankfulness reminds me of the joy I’ve known and have.
So why do I forget? Why does Thanksgiving come each year, and I have to remind myself to be thankful? Remind myself to take joy.
It’s human nature, I think. We forget the good things. We talk more about the negative than the positive. We discourage more than encourage.
I don’t want that to be true about me, but I find myself wallowing instead of rejoicing. A little minute spent complaining turns into days of complaints. A list of things wrong with my life instead of a list of all the good things that are gifts.
But I said similar things last year at this time. And the year before that. And the year before that. So why do I spend time reminding myself to be thankful only to forget again? Why do I continually veer toward a forgetfulness of the good things?
I want to blame it on being human. But maybe the pause button needs to be an “off button” instead. No more wallowing. No more complaining. No more forgetting the good things. Retrain my brain toward thankfulness.
Good things are all around us if we watch and notice. Kind people. Good days. Blessings that have gone unnoticed until we stop and pay attention.
May we be people who remember the good things, notice the good times, pay attention to goodness all around. May we be a community of goodness and kindness instead of complaints and ungratefulness.
I’ll remind you if you remind me. When I veer into forgetfulness and complaining, help me steer my life back into remembering the joy and finding the good.
Joy is contagious and thankfulness is too. We can spread joy and spread thankfulness. We can be people known for the good things instead of people caught in the negative. We can be joy spreaders instead of joy stealers.
The habit of thankfulness can replace the drudgery of an ungrateful heart. Joy stolen by repeated ungratefulness can be regained by a pattern of thankfulness.
So here’s to new patterns, new habits, new hearts with thankfulness and joy stamped on them. May this year be the year it stays with us and becomes a part of who we are.