A Thanksgiving Note

It’s appropriate on Thanksgiving to take a moment and think. In the midst of so much food, family, and football (and not necessarily in that order), I think it is easy to get overwhelmed in the busy-ness. So, for my own sanity benefit at least, I offer the following thoughts.

E mahalo i ka mea loaʻa is an old Hawaiian saying that means, “Be thankful for what you have.” A very close alternate saying is e ʻoluʻolu i ka mea i loaʻa – be satisfied with what you have. I was struck by how often thankfulness and satisfaction are related. But being thankful and being satisfied are not always present in the same moment, are they?

For many this year, the act of thankfulness will be dulled by the lack of satisfaction in their lives. I would go so far as to say that the focus on dissatisfaction might even undermine whatever thankfulness those people have. To the point that the focus on dissatisfaction creates the inability to be satisfied.

I hope that’s not you. I hope that you (and me) can focus on the genuinely good, genuinely satisfying things in our lives. That the small, simple things have greater meaning this Thanksgiving because they exist. They are present. Things like health, having at least one good friend, or getting that one bite of perfection in a Thanksgiving meal that sends you back to the happy moments of childhood (like my mom’s molasses cookies make me feel).

But if being dissatisfied at this time of year, describes you, I get it. Satisfaction is not an easy “flip-the-switch” choice. (Note: it is a choice, though.) And if you have to be satisfied in order to be thankful, I understand how difficult even asking you to choose can be.

That’s where I was so inspired by my friend, Joe Castleberry, this past week. Joe is a great guy and writes a blog on networking from the perspective of the Christian faith. His latest blog really blew my mind. He talked about how one of the coolest dudes in all of history, King David of Israel (and killing-Goliath-with-a-slingshot fame), wrote a song about giving thanks. It’s found in the Book of Psalms (Psalm #9, to be exact). The words say things like “I will be happy because of you, God” and “Y*HW*H defends those who suffer.” But the most mindset-altering part is the side note that the song begins with.

Somebody (probably a scribe) wrote a note to whoever directs the music for the song. This song about giving thanks to God is to be sung to the tune of “The death of the son.” This really stands out when you know that this song was likely written right after David had ended a conflict with his son, Absalom – who had declared himself king, chased his dad off of the throne, then literally lost his life after losing the battle against his dad.

David was grief-stricken, wishing he had died instead of his own son. And he still chose to give thanks. He still chose to put his own feelings of dissatisfaction in the back seat. He let his faith define his satisfaction AND his thankfulness. Unbelievable.

So, to those who made it this far in my rant post today, I encourage you to not only be thankful, but to make satisfaction part of the experience. Focus on what genuinely does satisfy you. Savor those moments, however small they are, like the best bites of Life that they are meant to be. It WILL make your Thanksgiving that much richer.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

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