By Brent Rinehart, Crosswalk.com
This Thanksgiving is unlike any other. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, we each have likely faced an internal struggle: bearing the heavy burdens of 2020, while trying to consider the blessings in our life that give us sufficient reasons to be thankful.
At the top of any such “blessings” list is our families. While my home life is not all rainbows and unicorns, I can say that there’s no other group of people I’d rather walk through 2020 with than my wife and kids.
And, having the ability to keep in close contact with parents, siblings and in-laws helps me know that I don’t walk in this alone.
With COVID-19 numbers surging across the nation, some of us have to make difficult choices this holiday season. The CDC has strongly recommended avoiding travel this holiday season and to instead remain with your own household as much as possible.
Many states, including mine, have restricted gathering size to 10 or fewer people to discouraging large holiday get-togethers. It seems that the folks I’ve spent the most time with the past nine months are going to be the ones I spend the most time with in the months ahead.
All of this forces me to think about what truly matters most this year: family. We need each other. Together, we can “bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
The Thanksgiving season is a time to reflect on those things that are a blessing to our lives. And, this year in particular, I can find many reasons to be thankful for family.
1. They Are Constant
This year, everything has changed. Many of us long to get back to normal.
I’d even appreciate the simple things like going to the grocery store without a mask or eating with friends at one of my favorite restaurants. Our lives have been turned upside down this year.
But, it the middle of all the chaos, I’ve found a couple of constants: my relationship with God and the love of my family. The COVID-19 pandemic has given many of us more time to spend with our families.
While I miss some of the other things I like to do, I’ve been reminded of what I love to do, and that’s just be together with my wife and kids. No matter how deep and dark the valley gets, I can count on them to be on the other side to lift me up.
2. They Give Me Purpose
There’s no doubt that God put me right where He wanted me…with this group of people in my family.
I know because of the love I experience from my wife and the satisfaction I get from the opportunity I have to lead my kids. Being a husband and a father gives me a feeling of purpose.
Marriage requires commitment and work. I have to constantly put forth my best effort, alongside my wife, to keep our marriage fresh and growing. Fatherhood requires just as much. God has allowed me to lead my kids, to introduce them to the things of God, and to impart wisdom.
It’s a high-calling and one I don’t quite feel equipped to handle. But, this “purpose” drives me to be my best. I’m thankful that God gave me an opportunity like this.
3. They Bring Me Joy
There’s nothing that brings me more joy than spending time with those I love the most. During this pandemic, we’ve spent more time together than usual.
Fortunately, we’ve been able to be outdoors a lot this year--working in our garden, throwing frisbee, playing soccer and going for hikes. This year has been hard.
Finding joy in a year of a pandemic, economic collapse, racial unrest and political upheaval is--shall we say--not easy.
But, oddly enough, I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of joy and happiness this year. My family is what has helped me keep it all together. I experience some of my most joyful times of my life just being with them. And, that’s something to be truly thankful for.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Goodshoot
4. They Are My Support System
From the stresses of work and life to the barrage of bad news that comes at us constantly, it’s easy to get down. Bad days can turn into bad weeks and bad months.
This year, I’m reminded more than ever of the critical role my family plays in my life. They are there as a safety net--my support system--to walk alongside me through the good and the bad.
The people closest to me are my strongest advocates, there to always see the best in me and what I’m truly capable of. Their support gives me the ability to face whatever comes my way on a daily basis.
5. They Know the Real Me--and Love Me Anyway
There’s an episode of the TV show Friends, where Monica discovers that Chandler has a different persona at work. While attending a work function, she hears--for the first time--Chandler’s “work laugh” as he has to fake laughter at all of his boss’s jokes.
This is a reminder that only those closest to us truly know the real version of ourselves.
I like to think that I’m pretty much the same in front of everyone, but there’s no doubt that inside my home, I can let the walls down. I don’t have to be “on” at all times. I can say what’s on my mind. I can act silly and goof off with my kids. I know that with my family, I’m not being judged. I’m being loved.
They know who I am, and they love me anyway, much like God does.
6. They Remind Me of God’s Love
God speaks to us in so many ways – through His Word, through circumstances in our lives, and through others. When I’m surrounded by my family, I can feel God’s arms around me.
He’s given us loved ones to provide us a picture of what His love is like. I can’t imagine loving anyone more than I love my wife and kids. And yet, God’s love is so much stronger than that.
One of the hardest things about this pandemic for many people has been the isolation. For those who get their energy from being around others or physical contact, it’s been a tough year.
But, being with my family reminds me that I’m not alone.
Not only is my family always there for me, but God is as well. This Thanksgiving, there’s no reminder that is more important than that.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @brentrinehart