Thanksgiving 2012 Reflection

Among the goodness of Thanksgiving is the practice of taking inventory recognizing the obvious blessings and discovering the less obvious ones. These thoughts represent a couple weeks’ head-start.

In my Thanksgiving Reflection a couple years ago, I wrote: “… In your college years, you’re quite the idealist, in your mid-twenties there is the possibility of getting pretty jaded, now in my thirties, it seems that the two are balancing.” This is still so true for me.

These years I’ve been realizing that I am not as jaded or as cynical as I used to be. Perhaps initially I believed the cynicism was on a brief hiatus because of the joy of new babies and such but these days I think it’s more of an actual change of heart. I try to avoid talking about anyone else in this space (out of fear of misrepresenting or unfairly objectifying) but this one seems obvious. My wife Susan is a very content soul and I think some of that is rubbing off on me. However I am hoping that my cynicism hasn’t rubbed off on her ;) So far no evidence of that but that stuff is sneaky.

But I do find myself thinking about cynicism these days. My sermon last week would be further evidence of that. Cynicism is like an undetected parasite that latches onto you. The “allure” is that we think we are overcoming naiveté but that’s not what happens, it robs us off joy and hope. Besides the pleasure of mocking and the accompanying superiority complex, it strips us of real joy and hope. This year, I’m thankful for the realization of where I am with that.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving. I tell you these posts are hard to write because Thanksgiving always feels so forced. I gave a devotion a couple weeks ago where I shared about a year that was so difficult to feel and actually be thankful. It would take months to feel thankful. In fact, it was much later that winter, in the new year in fact, that I was reading through Colossians for some reason and it was one of those, “These words just leapt off the page” moments:
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” – Colossians 2:6-7

Really, it barely mentions gratitude. What I knew was that I wasn’t grateful for some time. What I also knew was what Jesus meant to me. It was never Jesus that I have been cynical towards, it’s been people, institutions, attitudes and the words I hear throughout society, and myself – yeah I was cynical towards myself as well. Even still, I couldn’t deny that if I believed in Jesus and His work that included the Resurrection and the redemption of all things, I could not deny how this would allow for the overflowing of the heart in the forms of gratitude, peace and joy. As I recall, I didn’t leap off the chair with praise and tears but I do remember letting it soak in. Looking back on it, it’s one of the moments that would add up to a turning point.

These days have felt much different. Not only have I felt my cynicism waning but I believe I am a more joyful and content person. It’s odd to write and re-read that but I’m going to let it sit with this qualifier – At least this is what I’m feeling this year ;) In the meantime, may this either be an encouragement to cynics and jaded hearts or may it be fodder. Either way, it feels right to offer this.

On a different note, I am also extremely thankful for my family. It’s been a wonderful year for Susan and I, our little kids, our new home, we are really liking life in MA. Still so many and so much that we miss.  The most of which is the loss of one of my uncles who went to be with the Lord this year – Uncle Anwar. He was laid to rest on March 31st – the day before Holy Week and I can’t think of a time where the meaning and promise of Easter ever felt more powerful. We spent many Thanksgivings at Uncle and Taunt Lucy’s house and while I am excited about new traditions with loved ones, these days feel rich because of the precious ones before them.

Uncle Anwar was our family patriarch, he kept our family tree and often celebrated the meaning of our last name. “Ghali” can be interpreted a few ways in Arabic and our preferred meaning is “precious.” May we live up to that name, may we as a family always guard and celebrate what is precious around us and may we be a blessing to those around us.

Thanksgiving can be bittersweet – see the obvious blessings, reflect on what is less obvious but may the grace and goodness of God find you this Thanksgiving and Advent season.


  1. Tim- I rarely read people’s “What I am thankful for” posts because, like those acceptance speeches at the awards shows, the script rarely changes (“I’d like to thank my mom, God, all the people in my life that…”) but because your posts never seem to let me down when I am looking for real insight, I sought yours out this morning and I am thankful (there you go) that i did. So much of what you have said here, from your thoughts on the loss of your Uncle Anwar to your words on cynicism, spoke directly to my heart. My wife recently left, and left me with two young daughters and a mountain of shared debt that is suddenly now my own. The months ahead will assuredly be a time, much as the one you described, through which moments of gratitude will be hard to come by. Thank you for giving me words and scripture to steel myself for the journey.
    In Christ,

  2. Mark, Thank you for the authenticity of this comment. I had to re-read it to make sure I read what I read. I saw this yesterday and didn’t want to reply with a trite answer, sorry that I let it sit here a day but you were on my mind when I woke up and you were in this morning’s prayers. I’ll do my best to keep you in prayer during this season of life. If you haven’t already, surround yourself with wise and caring people that you trust and value, let them journey with you. I know with that type of vulnerability, there will be some people who are not helpful (see the cynicism?) but with that same vulnerability will come true moments of friendship and community from worthy people.
    I clicked over to your blog – really enjoyed your meditations too – will add to you to my blogroll soon – appreciated being on yours (next to Adam Hamiliton and Chesterton society – wow, honored)

    Whenever it feels right, would love to hear from you – feel free to private message me anytime.
    Grace and peace to you and your children and may the meaning of Advent allow you to experience peace and the nearness of God.

  3. Tim,
    Thank you for your thoughtful response, your prayers and your insight. All three are deeply appreciated,

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