by Tracie Miles
Don’t Let Details Distract You From Indebtedness
In 1973, based on the popular comic strip Peanuts, the first Charlie Brown Thanksgiving aired on prime-time television. As a child, watching this show became one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions. As an adult, it was one of the traditions I held dear with my own children. Not only because Linus’s prayer at the dinner table was a great example of how to be thankful at Thanksgiving, but also because Peppermint Patty’s behavior was a great example of how NOT to be.
Peppermint Patti, upon sitting down at the Thanksgiving table surrounded by friends, quickly made the honorable suggestion to say grace before they began eating. But her reason for praying was because “it’s thanksgiving, you know.“ In other words, “we are supposed to be thankful on Thanksgiving, so let’s say a prayer of thanks.”
Peppermint Patti initiated the call to prayer out of perceived obligation, but it was her actions that followed which proved she only had head knowledge of true thankfulness, not heart knowledge. As soon as Linus said amen, she looked around the table and details began to distract her from indebtedness for the gifts they’d been given.
“What’s this?” She exclaimed. “A piece of toast, a pretzel stick, popcorn? What blockhead cooked all this?!” “We came all the way across town, for this?”
When her expectations of what Thanksgiving should look like didn’t match up with her reality, Patti got upset and irritated. She began to verbally express her dissatisfaction and became annoyed with one of the guests (Snoopy). She was agitated the food didn’t meet her traditional requirements of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. She complained and yelled, having quickly forgotten all about Linus’s prayer and the importance of being truly thankful. She became focused on people and circumstances instead of prayer and true gratitude.
Unfortunately, this scene is all too familiar in households across the country at Thanksgiving. We have this idea of how we want the holiday to look but our reality may not match up to our expectations. Details can distract us from indebtedness to God.
Today’s key verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, says “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Here we read when we are to be thankful – in all circumstances. And we read why we are to be thankful – because this is God’s will for all believers as He knows a grateful heart is a happy heart. We can be thankful no matter what, because God is worthy of our thanksgiving.
Basically, in this verse, the Apostle Paul is giving instruction on how to have heart knowledge and not just head knowledge of true gratitude. We are to be thankful in all circumstances, not merely those that are easy and pleasant, including the ones that break our hearts. We are to trust God’s ways even when we don’t understand them. We’re to be thankful for the gifts He has given us, not focused on what we don’t yet have.
Rarely do families get through Thanksgiving dinner with perfectly cooked food … children who exhibit pristine manners … babies who don’t cry or refrain from picking inopportune times for dirty diapers … siblings who don’t argue … spouses who don’t quarrel … drinks that are not spilled … or family members who are in total agreement about which football game to watch. The enemy wants to use all these unimportant details to distract us from what we really should be focusing on – the Giver of the gifts, not the gifts themselves.
During the holidays or any day of the year, we can easily morph into a Peppermint Patti if we are not careful – a person who gives thanks with their mouths but not with their hearts. A person who gets so distracted with the less than desired details that they overlook the indebtedness we should have in our hearts for Christ not just for what He has blessed us with but for Who He is.
Life is not always easy and holidays aren’t always perfect or peaceful. But we can always have a heart full of thankfulness if we remember Who we are to be thankful for, not just what we’re thankful for that He’s given us.
Need helping embracing a change of mind so you can experience a true change of heart and live a lifestyle of gratitude and thankfulness? Consider purchasing Tracie’s popular books for yourself or someone you love this holiday season: Unsinkable Faith: God-filled Strategies for Transforming the Way You Think, Feel and Live and Love Life Again: Finding Joy When Life is Hard.
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Thank you for writing this Tracy! This is exactly what I needed to read the day after. I so agree the enemy works hard “to use all these unimportant details to distract us from what we really should be focusing on” and he doesn’t quit when Thanksgiving is over. Thank you for this refreshing reminder!
Tracie, this post should be shared on every possible platform. We are all familiar with the peanuts and peppermint patties not so tasteful attitude. What a wonderful example of our own failures to be grateful. I appreciate this vivid picture you painted. May your thanksgiving be just that, a day of giving thanks.