Friday, September 16, 2011

More Thoughts on Thanksgiving

My recent pursuit of gratitude got me thinking about a question that I've pondered on and off for a long time, one that I'd never satisfactorily resolved.  Specifically, why do we thank God for all that is awesome about us, and blame our sinful selves for all the bad we do?

I've wondered about it, but never worried.  I always knew it was right, even if I couldn't say exactly why.  But a few days ago I had an epiphany on the matter.  My mistake in the past was thinking of my transgressions and my good qualities (intelligence, kindness, what-have-you) as being two sides of the same coin, when they are not.  My good qualities, my circumstances, my life, are all gifts.  All that I can do is respond to these gifts.  I can respond with gratitude and exercise virtue, or I can respond with ingratitude and commit sin.  Those responses are the two sides of the same coin.

When I was little, I remember my mom's explanation of the word create to me: it means to make something out of nothing, so only God can do it.  Of course, the word is often used simply as a synonym for produce, or develop, or build, or one of the other many things that people can do, but not out of nothing.  I have used the word myself plenty of times in this way.  Every time I do, I feel myself cringing just a bit, because I know I'm using it wrong.

My recent discovery that everything I do is a response goes hand-in-hand with the whole creation business.  If I can't make something out of nothing, I surely cannot possess a quality of my own volition.  But, just as I can make a beautiful meal out of delicious ingredients, I can cultivate my talents and my plentiful shower of gifts, knowing that even my deliberate decision to accept and foster them is an act of thanksgiving.

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