It’s finally that time! Thanksgiving week is upon us (unless you read this early here!). Hopefully this means that you are enjoying the time and not stressing out, but let’s be real you probably are. Distant relatives might be coming over and that stresses you out. Maybe you have been stuck making the food (get some of the lazy ones to help out, yo!). You may be super anxious about the political debates that may happen. You might be killing yourself trying to have the Norman Rockwell image of thanksgiving dinner. Hold up. This doesn’t really sound like a “holiday,” it seems kinda like a nightmare. I want to pull the plug on the idea of having a picture-perfect Thanksgiving. Even though you may see tons of Instagram pictures of a feast, you don’t see the picture of the dishes to make the meal, the family arguments before and after the picture was taken. You don’t see the bathroom struggle later, the baby throw up on a tired mom, or the awkward comment that uncle four times removed made about you name it. I want to cut through the fake-ness, I want to look at what thanksgiving should be all about, and I want to look at the power of family.
Now before I dive in, the origin of thanksgiving is murky. There was a meal shared by first nations people and pilgrims, and probably with nice pilgrims. It’s the whole thing later on about the treatment not-so-nice pilgrims did, that whole murder business probably didn’t sit too well. That being said, I actually love thanksgiving. I don’t idealize the pilgrims and first nationers coming together, I like to think about the bible. The verse I like comes from the book of Jeremiah (yeah, the really sad book in the bible where people only try to remember 29:11). It’s actually verse 30:19, which says, “From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.” I like this verse because it touches on the part of thanksgiving I love; family. Family is big to me, I love next generation ministry, so it’s kind of a big part of it. I want to talk about family, but a modern family, a family that is talked about in scripture, the true essence. I want to talk about God’s family.
We are a family of misfits.
I love thanksgiving. Not because of the food or the sports ball games (ugh, boring), but because my family opened our home to misfits. My biological family is a bunch of misfits and I love it. We’ve got craftsmen, dirt bike racers, comic book lovers, feminists, pharmacists, moms, dads, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, and Jesus loving people. The thing is, only my immediate family lives here in North Carolina, everyone else is in Wisconsin or Minnesota. So, my family each year, would open our home to people from the church. People whose family lived far away, neighbors, people without a family; essentially more misfits like us. People would come, bring a food item of some sort, and we would fellowship together. We would be the church. That’s what I love about family. Family is the church. A group of misfits, different colors, personalities, and style coming together to enjoy life and love God. It was never stressful, my mom was never forced to cook all by herself while the dudes watched football (again, boring), we broke the mold.
We would watch the thanksgiving parade and make fun of the wacky pop stars and their music. We play board games that even for introvert Josh, could go wild with. We would all decorate sugar cookies that look like turkeys. Tim and I would watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 marathon and die laughing at the stupid jokes. Mom would play with the turkey guts. We are misfits, and misfits are what make up the church.
We are a family of broken people, made new by God.
Everyone has struggles. Everyone has faced fear, fought a sin, made mistakes; but we are all made new in Christ. I don’t like the Norman Rockwell picture of family, we’re more broken than that, which is okay. If we never struggled, we would never be driven to trust God. The past couple of Thanksgiving’s have been funky, there have been some spiritual wars to fight, but in all of those battles and struggles, God was faithful. I love my broken family, because we have been restored by our creator. I love my family, both biological and spiritual families, because we don’t have to put on a face of perfection. Perfection is a joke and only one human was perfect, and we aren’t Jesus.
Think about that verse I referenced earlier. I see thanksgiving as a time where I can thank God for choosing me. Thank him for never giving up on my broken self. Thank him for giving me a hope and a future. In my thanksgiving, he will bless me and grow my family, both biological and spiritual, because God is writing my story. God is writing your story too. No matter what’s in your past or the mistakes you’ve made, God wants a relationship with you. He wants you in his family, misfit and broken, he made you for more. Join the family.
I really do hope that you enjoy your thanksgiving this week. Be sure to remember that if your meal isn’t perfect, your family is stressing you out, or that you feel like you aren’t reaching a certain standard; it’s okay. God loves you more than your picture-perfect turkey day (or tofu-turkey day). Enjoy time with your family, biological and spiritual. Invite a neighbor, bring people into your home and have fun. Be thankful for the life God has given you. Step into the purpose you were made for, you are a part of the family, misfit and broken, but so worth loving.
Join the family.