Family gatherings during the holidays can
be wonderful. But they also can be quite stressful. There can be
friction with some personalities that don't blend with ours. There may
be old hurts that are simmering under the surface. Tension takes over
our minds and hearts. Here is some wisdom about an antidote for it all
from Julie J. Exine PhD. She believes that gratitude is what can help us
through a challenging day, but she acknowledges that it is not always
easy to obtain.
"Gratitude isn't always so easy to access
especially when we face difficult life experiences....For most of us,
the sweet taste of gratitude can be hard to find in these sour
situations. Nevertheless, even amidst the tangle of negative emotions we
may struggle through in tough times, we may still find signs pointing
toward the importance of gratitude. Many religious and spiritual
writings promote thankfulness as well. For example, the Bible reminds
readers that 'It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.' (Psalm
92:1) and Christians are exhorted to 'give thanks in all circumstances'
(1 Thessalonians 5:18).
These writings remind us that gratitude isn't
simply a positive emotional state; it's also a virtue. In contrast to
happy moods that come and go, virtues often yield their payoffs over the
long haul. Here's the challenging part: In most cases, virtuous
mindsets and behaviors don't just spring up naturally, in response to
pleasant events. Instead they have to be cultivated, often through times
of suffering and trial. Intense personal struggles can present a tough
test of our character. Can we find reasons to be thankful even when
facing circumstances that seem unbearably difficult?"
Taking these words of wisdom to heart then,
Thanksgiving may provide an opportunity for us to cultivate the virtue
of gratitude. When faced with a difficult person at the family
gathering, why not focus on what is good about a person rather than what
is wrong with them? Why not work hard to think of something good they
have done in the past rather than focus on how they have hurt us. By
doing so, we acknowledge that all of us are a combination of shadow and
light. All of us have done things that we regret. But all, also, contain
treasure in these earthen vessels. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to go
treasure hunting, to find that hidden gold within the challenging
person in our lives.
May you each have a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday with those you love.
With much love,
December Song of the Month
Ready for a new
song? So am I! This month we have a song from one of my favorite places
in all the earth...Ireland. This one is written by Robin Mark. We have
done a number of his songs here at Emmanuel. He is a leading artist in
the renewal movement in Ireland. This song is lively and has a catchy
tune, one of those you will find yourself humming all day after you hear
it. Here is a link so that you can hear it being performed by Robin
Mark himself, That way you will know it already when we begin to use it
the first Sunday in December!
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