Happy Stressgiving! Wait, that doesn’t sound right does it? It’s Thanksgiving. A time to be, you know, thankful. But how many of us can say that we truly take this day of thanks to rest and remember all that we’re thankful for? Instead, we go into the stuffed, bored, sleepy, turkey coma so we can hopefully avoid just how stressed-out we are! In reality, there are many things that happen on Thanksgiving that could make you want to complain rather than be thankful.
Maybe you’ll complain this year because you’re not going to be with your family. Maybe you’ll complain because you are with your family! Maybe you’re worried about cooking the turkey. Maybe you’re stressed out because an important guest is coming for the big dinner, but you’re worried your second cousin on your mom’s side might start showing off his skills at making armpit noises again.
A day that’s supposed to be set aside for thanks and rest turns into a day of stress. How do we fix it? What does it look like to really give thanks and rest on this holiday instead of stress out? And what would it look like to have a practice of weekly rest throughout the year?
Let me share something Jesus said. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG (emphasis added)
If Jesus did it, we probably should learn how to do it too, right? Take an assessment of your busyness. Remember, you’re in control of your schedule. Cut out things that are taking a physical and spiritual toll on you and your family. Free up some time on your calendar. Then, sit back and watch God start using that time to reveal Himself more to you. Those dreams you have? Those things you feel God wants you to do as soon as you get more time? Get un-busy and watch God make those dreams a reality.
The practice of weekly rest will keep you stronger during the year and better able to make it through even the most stressful conversations with your second cousin on your mom’s side! Practicing the unforced rhythms of grace stores strength and grace inside you for when stressful seasons pop up.
And as far as Thanksgiving, try these things this year to turn your stressed out, stuffed, bored, sleepy, turkey coma self into a life-giving, thankful person right now.
- Start a tradition. Seriously. Maybe force everyone to say one thing they’re thankful for. Or even one person in the room they’re thankful for and why. They might roll their eyes the first couple of years you do it, but soon it will become a treasured memory and a tradition to look forward to.
- Play a game. Lighten up! No cut-throat competition, just some good fun. Break out a board game, stand up and do some charades. It doesn’t matter what you do, the point is to enjoy your time with one another.
- Go outside and join (or start) a football game. Maybe what you need to do is get some fresh air to clear your stressed-out mood. Just don’t tackle that distant cousin of your mom’s too hard!
- Volunteer. Quickest path to gratitude? Help someone. You’ll not only give them a reason to give thanks today, but you’ll also quickly be reminded of how much you do have to be thankful for.