What are you thankful for?
Wow, it’s been a minute since I’ve last written a blog and for those of you who are still waiting on the purity culture blog from the guy’s perspective, it is in the works. I have just had a lot on my plate and haven’t had the chance to sit down to write a blog. Although I have been writing a lot. For the past 6 weeks or so I have been in a preaching class that has been stretching me in the best way possible. During this time I have written a sermon about Anxiety and most recently one about gifts. I will actually be preaching the sermon about gifts at our Ladies Christmas Banquet on December 2nd and I’m really excited because I think it is a message that the women attending need to hear. If possible I will share both of those sermons with you in the upcoming weeks, either by video or my manuscripts. They will be a little longer than my typical blog because I’ve put weeks of work into these sermons, but I love where both of these sermons take you.
So that’s a little update on what I’ve been doing. Let’s get back to the blog. What are you thankful for? As we get ready to sit down with family and friends around the thanksgiving table in a couple of days; do you take time to stop and really think about what you are thankful for? Maybe your family goes around the table and each person shares one thing their thankful for. I’ll be honest I hate this part. No, not because I don’t have anything to be thankful for, I actually have a lot. But for someone with anxiety and social anxiety, I would rather go stand out in the freezing cold than for all the eyes to be on me. So when it comes to my time I just say my family and move on as quickly as possible. When in reality I really want to say, I’m thankful for my anxiety and how realizing that anxiety can be positive. Because in the last year I have been closer to God than I ever have before, I’ve become more confident in who I am, and I’m finally living for God and myself and not under the expectations of others. That confidence has led me into a new position at my job where I am helping others find, develop and use the gifts and passions that God has placed within them. That confidence has shown me I have value and my words are worth sharing even if I have a different perspective than the majority of people around me. And even though this might sound silly to some people my confidence has allowed me to ask questions.
Growing up I was a rule follower. Side note- that is still true today but now I want to know the why behind the rule and understand it not just follow it blindly. So growing up if there was a rule to follow I was going to do it and if I didn’t no one else had to punish me because I was harder on myself than they would have been. In the church, it felt like there were a lot of rules. I was always hearing sermons on what I shouldn’t do or what was a sin. For some of my friends, this didn’t bother so much but I literally felt that if I even just had a thought about some of the “sins” that were taught as sinful that was enough of breaking the rules and I needed to repent right then and there because I could die in the car on the way home. So that confidence that I was speaking about earlier, it gave me permission to ask “why” to my belief system. Not in a negative way, but it allowed me to find and build my belief system and not just blindly attach to someone else’s. What I’ve found is there are a few things that can get skewed by just attaching someone else’s belief as your own. There are three parts to this, essential, important
Essential beliefs are those that your faith is built on. For example, my belief is built on that Jesus came to this earth born of a virgin, he died on the cross and 3 days later rose again. I believe in the holy trinity and that one day He is coming back. Now I could expand upon that and go into detail but I think you get the point. The reason this is essential is that without this piece my faith or salvation is nonexistent. So that’s the essential piece, the next piece is important. The important beliefs are vital to the faith but not essential to our salvation. Something important could be baptism, while it is vital and I believe that it is an outward expression of what is happening inside a person. I also don’t believe that someone has to be baptized to find salvation. It’s really important for someone to make this kind of commitment, but it’s not essential. The last piece is personal and this one can get skewed the most because I’ve found that personal beliefs can get thrown in with essential ones sometimes. Personal beliefs or personal convictions are specific boundaries of behavior set for a person individually; however it is not necessarily a commandment defined in the Bible, nor is it a behavior meant for others to follow. But so many times we try to place our own personal convictions on everyone around us. I think we all can think of personal beliefs that other people have or even our own convictions. Growing up a big one that was viewed almost as a sin or something you should never do if you are a Christian was get a tattoo. I’m not going to argue with you or say that you should or shouldn’t get a tattoo, but what I will say is that my personal conviction is that for me tattoos are fine to have. The reason I feel this way is because I gave myself permission to ask questions and the result I found was that tattoos are not a sin and for me, they are a way to express myself and my faith. Also for me, they are a great way to start a conversation with someone you don’t know. I’ve actually had quite a few Jesus conversations with people I wouldn’t typically have had the opportunity to have a conversation like that with. While I was getting my shoulder piece last month, which is my biggest one, I was there for hours, and I got to have some pretty awesome Jesus conversations with the people in the shop that day.
So what does all this have to do with what we are thankful for? Simple answer, everything! Like I mentioned before I’m thankful for my anxiety because God created it as a warning system and even though in the past that warning system got distorted more often than not, I can now realize that God place this anxiety within me to push me to step into what he called me to. Stepping into confidence in my own skin and who I am and who I am in Christ has led me to have opportunities to speak and have conversations with people. It’s led me to use my voice and my creativity to walk into new territory and it has led me to give myself permission to ask questions without feeling like I am being judged. And yeah, I’m even thankful for my tattoos.
Here’s the cool thing God created each one of us so uniquely. So what I’m thankful for can be completely different than what you are thankful for. The intention of this blog was to step outside the norm and think outside the box of what I’m thankful for and maybe it stirs you to think about what you are thankful for in this way too. But I want to be clear that if what you are thankful for is like the example I used before, your family that is a wonderful thing to be thankful for because not everyone can say that.
I want to leave you with a challenge, find a few minutes alone this week and think about or even write down what you are thankful for. Now, this is for you, you don’t have to write it out in a blog and post it on the internet like I did and you don’t even have to share it with your family at the Thanksgiving dinner table. But if you do want to take it a step further after you’ve written down what you are thankful for, why don’t you spend some time in prayer thanking God for those things.
I hope you have a happy thanksgiving and if you need someone to talk to I am always available, e-mail me at email@example.com
Talk to you soon!