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  • Writer's pictureMarnie Hammar

Three Ways to Prepare Your Heart for Thanksgiving

It’s closing in, isn’t it? Our lists are growing: Buy the turkey, look up and pretend to understand words like “brine,” stock up on and then hide the whipped cream, prepare the guest room… Are you color-coding your shopping lists?

We’re all about checking the boxes right now, aren’t we? But here’s the thing: As we check, check, check all the boxes, we risk unintentionally leaving our hearts unchecked.

How can we take steps now to protect our hearts from the inevitable shriveling that happens when we have too much to do? How can we wrap our souls in a lasting posture of gratitude?

In these days that lead up to Thanksgiving, what if we’re intentional about holding space to breathe in gratitude and breathe out peace?

This year, may we settle into a posture of intentional thanksgiving in advance so that when we burn the rolls and overcook the turkey and Uncle Lou starts talking about politics and our kids destroy the guest room we just cleaned, we’ve already chosen how we’ll respond. Because we’re already dwelling in a heart of gratitude.

Here are three ways we can prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving:

1 | Let’s detach from our expectations.

"Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things," (Psalm 107:8-9).

The picture in my mind of what things will look like on Thanksgiving Day can mess with me. Honestly, I might not even realize what it is I'm adding to that picture. When I imagine Thanksgiving, I might be holding onto an unmet desire or an unrealistic longing or an unachievable picture. It's better for my own heart, as well as those gathering with me, if I name those expectations in advance. I've learned that, when I lay down the perfect picture and detach from unhealthy ideals and measures of what things "should" look like, I can better focus on loving others well. When I stop evaluating Thanksgiving by the perfect table setting and perfect lattice-crust apple pie and instead embrace the smiles offered and hearts connected, I can be satisfied and filled differently. My friend Pamela Henkelman wrote, “The antidote to expectations is gratitude. As we shift our heart to give thanks, we invite God near.” (Read: How Gratitude Helps You Release Expectations) Let’s name our expectations ahead of time and then lay them down.

2 | Let’s attach our hearts to His.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him," (Psalm 28:7).

Instead of being attached to what we want, let’s attach to who we are. Let’s attach to Him first, so that we can love from whole places, even in the broken. Let’s prepare the food and sit at the table and connect with friends and family from a place of being perfectly and fully loved by Him. We don’t have to earn anyone’s love, nor do we have to perform or control or fix. When we're attached to Him, and we believe who He says we are, then strained relationships don’t have to be perfect to still be filled with gratitude and love. When we attach to Him, we can come as we are.

3 | Let’s be filled by Him before our tables are filled.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus," (Philippians 4:6-7).

In these days before Thanksgiving, let’s hold space for quiet, sacred moments to prepare our hearts. Let's identify and reserve a handful of moments before the holiday weekend to connect with Him before the busy. Maybe it’s when you’re in your car, or when your kids are sleeping on break, or when you walk the dog. Talk to Him about your Thanksgiving plans and invite Him to speak into how to walk through the days with a posture of gratitude. (Learn more about hearing His voice.) Spend time thanking Him for all you have, and ask Him to fill your heart so that you can walk out love, joy, peace, patience. If we can find the moments now to be filled with His thoughts and His mind, we can better hold onto those truths when the crazy arrives. Write scriptures down and place them in your kitchen where you’ll see them in the busy. When we’re filled with Him first, we can be present with a heart of thanksgiving.

As we keep checking off our lists before Thanksgiving arrives, here are some additional resources to also help you prepare your heart:

Photo credit: Wix media.


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