I would guess you can say that lately I am learning about “giving thanks.”
I mean wow, it has to be about more than, “Oh God, thanks for all this stuff I HAVE here in suburbia.” Doesn’t it? At best, the cynic in me rises up and says “nope”, giving the whole thing a big “unlike” thumbs-down (if only Facebook offered this, particularly during elections and football season). At worst, I sputter out, “Hey thanks God” meaning not a single syllable of it… and stuff my face with, well, stuff.
So yeah, this is where I’ve been.
I sure sound like fun at a party.
And so it was the other morning I got up, and before I got ready for work, I stood out on the deck in the dark and listened to the community waking.
Bodie, our Australian Shepherd, quietly sat sentinel next to my feet. Well, that is until a rabbit caught his eye in the corner of the yard and he bolted off in a flurry of claws on the deck.
So much for my mellow.
As the sun woke in the east and lit my breath in the cold air, I took in the quiet… I took in the breeze… I took in the view of our neighbors’ back yards and all in one moment I was suddenly very thankful.
And you know what? It had less to do with what we all have and don’t have (I mean don’t get me wrong, these are parts of it), but more about Who God is to me, and who I am in Him…
…here in suburbia.
I am called to be a grace, love, and Spirit-filled hope-bringer to people who desperately need Him, in spite of their perfect yards and homes. I am privileged to be a banner carrier who has the eyes to see that these great peaceful and busy communities and streets and views and mountains and fields and sunrises… while they are meant to be enjoyed – they only point us to the One who made it all.
I get to see that. And suddenly everything is bigger, better.
I get to see a larger and more profound sunrise… I get to feel colder air, I get to hear brighter birdsong… I get to breathe in deeper and laugh out louder… I cry on a deeper level and see the rabbits bound higher because it is all His… and it is wondrous.
And I get to see that.
You see, in the moment I guess I am learning something.
I am learning that suburbia isn’t the problem. The problem is that we can begin to believe that its the actual point. From the pressures of keeping up, to the expectation that our kids and we should HAVE more and more, and to the tendency to isolate ourselves from the broken… the suburban lifestyle whispers night and day that how it all looks on the outside is everything.
But it isn’t, is it?
This is why so many here in suburbia are finding that they are not peaceful, they are not hopeful, they are not happy… and fundamentally, many are living shipwrecked lives and relationships because all their hope for peace and fulfillment had been placed on this thing that could not deliver it: the outward perfection of suburbia.
We have to remember outward perfection will never reflect inner peace, it will never offer us a hope-filled identity. Only God can do that kind of heavy lifting in our hearts.
So may you look out today, this week, this holiday season and may your eyes, your ears, and your breath be transformed. May you see Who all this points back to. May you see suburbia as a playground within which the great and mighty story of Jesus’ love crashes into a thousand names and a thousand lives… because it is more about who and Whose we are, than about what suburbia helps us have.
“Giving thanks” being even more about Who than about having? I can deal with that.