Life Notes: What if?

Tim Howard

In the 1960 Disney movie, “Pollyanna,” Hayley Mills played the title character.

Pollyanna Whittier, a young orphan, goes to live with her wealthy, but stern, Aunt Polly in Vermont. Pollyanna's philosophy of life centers on what she calls "The Glad Game," an optimistic attitude she learned from her father.

She consistently finds something to be glad about in every situation regardless of how difficult things become. The game originated one Christmas when Pollyanna was hoping to receive a doll for her present. When she opened her gift, however, she found only a pair of crutches inside. At that moment, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things — in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "she didn’t need them." Her gratitude and thankful spirit influenced this small New England town and transformed it into a place of joy and thanksgiving.

A grumpy attitude or a grateful heart is a matter of choice. Do you want to influence people in a positive way? Does the atmosphere at your job need to be refreshed? Would you like to cheer people up rather than bring them down? Then choose to be grateful in this season of Thanksgiving.

The Bible reveals that the apostle Paul went through many ups and downs in his life. He was beaten, shipwrecked, hungry, deserted, and even stoned to the point of death. If anyone had a right to complain, he did! But listen to his words from 2 Corinthians 4:1-18. “Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small in comparison to the big picture and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” (NLB)

To be grateful, you need a new focus, a reason to speak and a willingness to share. Therefore, open your eyes and focus on what you have rather than on what you don’t. It will bring peace! Open your mouth and express thanks to God. It will create joy! Open your hands and share your blessings. It will show love!

Thanksgiving will put an end to jealousy, envy and covetousness. It will guard you from a spirit of entitlement and help you to stop taking things for granted. Giving thanks will cause a demanding spirit to leave. A grateful heart will help you see life with a new perspective.

Our country has set aside one day a year to remind us of the importance of thanksgiving. I personally think we should be thankful 365 days a year but THANK GOD we at least have one day still on the calendar as a reminder. I can’t speak for you but, as for my family and me, we are going to choose thankfulness over complaining, gratitude over grumpiness, and play the Glad Game rather than the Sad Game. If anyone comes to you this season and invites you to focus on the miserable-ness of things, why don’t you simply say: Thanks, but no thanks!

Allow this Nov. 25 to establish a foundation and pattern for your future.

Tim Howard is retired Lead Pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA.


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