Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful for family, friends

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. I hope everybody reading this had an opportunity to spend time with loved ones and enjoy the holiday.

Thanksgiving can mean different things to different people, but most of all, it should be about thanking God for the ways He has blessed our lives.

I know times are tough for many. It is difficult to see a silver lining in the dark clouds that sometime float in and out of our lives. However, if we will just pause for a moment we can see His hand at work.

The last few days I have been reflecting on how thankful I am for the family I have. 'Family'can be defined in many ways, and most of us think of our parents or siblings or spouses when it comes to our family.

Indeed, I am grateful for my immediate family. With so much isolation and loneliness in the world, it is nice to have people to which I can cling.

From a sociological point of view, isolation and loneliness may be the two greatest challenges our world faces. More and more people barricade themselves in their homes because we have all become so self-sufficient.

Then, we start experiencing emptiness in our hearts, and it is difficult to make it go away. Almost like a living organism, it grows, and it aches.

Unfortunately, some go down destructive paths to soothe this pain. Drug and alcohol abuse are all too common whether it happens in a big city or smaller communities like Manchester, Tullahoma, and Coffee County.

When confronted with this emptiness, the challenge is how to deal with it in a positive way. Perhaps the most positive way is to focus on the definition of 'family' stated at the beginning of this column.

The definition I provided earlier is incomplete. A family is not just people who share the same flesh and blood. A family can include a wide variety of people that share a common bond.

For example, I have been reflecting recently on my church family.

For many, going to church has been watered down to a ritualistic exercise that people go through because they feel they have to.

Because of this, the experience of going to church does not develop into what it could be. While the main purpose of attending church is to worship, it is also important because it gives people the opportunity to be with each other.

It allows people to develop relationships that can be life changing. Much like our immediate families, these relationships can carry us when we need to be carried. Conversely, these people can be an outlet for us when we want to share the joys of life.

These circumstances can be profound or sometimes just plain silly.

Earlier this month, about 50 people from my church family attended a Nashville Predators hockey game. The game was thrilling, but the joy of the night was all of us spending a night out on the town.

It was an experience we will all carry for a long time, and it will remain a source of funny stories.

Of course, none of these stories will include me because I was a perfect gentleman the entire time. Trust me, nobody got anything on me.

The bottom line is that we all need each other. As the holiday season unfolds, let’s all be sensitive to those around us who may need a little kindness in their life.

The holiday season has become commercialized almost to the breaking point in recent years. Maybe the best gift we can provide others is to let them know how we feel about them and that we care.

We were born to love one another.

So, why don't we do it?

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