I remember being stressed out of my mind as I put my shoes on to head over to my mom and dad's house for Thanksgiving. Holidays with my parents usually frustrated me because they always invited one particular guest who didn't care to much about our personal space or comfort. Not only that but they always allowed him to invite other people too, and invite he did!! He would pack the place out with people that didn't always realize how big of a privilege it was to be invited. I mean, if they realized how big of a deal it was to be included in our Thanksgiving, they would have eaten last, brought a special desert for us and sat on the hard wooden chair in the corner, smiling the whole time and saying thank you every time I passed by. But alas, when you invite guests into your home you are probably going to wind up being the one with a picked over turkey wing and a sore back from a hard wooden chair.
Yes, holidays with my parents were very stressful to me. I didn't like the extra guests at all. To me Thanksgiving was about closing the front door, locking out the noise of the world around us and just taking the day off to unwind. I didn't see any sense in brining in outsiders to eat my turkey, steal my olives and sit in the most cushy recliner in the house.
Now that I've moved to Bend, I have the freedom to do Thanksgiving they way I've always wanted to... alone. Just me, my small family and nobody else. It has taken 15 years to get here but I'm finally in position for the perfect Thanksgiving! I should be celebrating and prepping the recliner but as we get closer to the day, I think I may be losing my mind. I've actually decided to do the unthinkable... instead of spending Thanksgiving in my quiet self focused bubble, being thankful for me, my home, my family and my privacy – I'm going to invite a guest to join us. In fact, drumroll and sanity check please, I'm going to invite the exact same guest that my parents used to invite to their home and I've decided to let him invite a few guests too.
I already know that he's a very generous person and my experience tells me that he will be extra generous when he's giving away my things! Where I like a quiet house with plenty of leftovers, he likes a packed house, a big crowd and empty serving bowls. When I'm all about me, he's all about others. In other words, he will single handedly turn my Thanksgiving plans on their heads.
I wouldn't invite him, but over the years I've realized that, even though he makes me uncomfortable, I love being around him. He's infectiously joyful and when I'm with him I feel better sitting on the wooden chair, eating a turkey wing, then I would eating the turkey breast without him. I'm looking forward to letting him take over my home, like he always took over my parents' home.
You see, about 13 years ago I let Him take over my life and it's never been the same since. He did the same thing inside of me, that He'll be doing inside of my home this Thanksgiving. He's going to make it all about Himself and others, which, amazingly enough, takes the pressure off of trying to please the hardest person I could ever try to please – myself. It allows me to relax and enjoy the day because the day is no longer about me. It's like going to someone else's party. I get to eat the food and enjoy the people but I don't have to worry if everything goes perfectly, because after-all, I'm really just His guest there too.
I encourage you, this Thanksgiving, to do what we are going to do. Invite God to your party and ask Him to direct you to other people that He would like for you to invite too. Freely we have been given God's love and it's now our joy and responsibility to pass it on. Find someone that needs the love and offer them your recliner. Sit on the hard chair and eat the wing instead of the breast. Living to serve is the closest that you will ever get to being like Jesus and the rewards are well worth the sacrifice.
"‘...Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled." Luke 14 esv