On This Thanksgiving Day

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Do you ever use Facebook’s “On This Day” feature? I used to think it was annoying, but now I like it, maybe because I’ve just gotten old and more nostalgic. I’m thankful that I deleted and recreated my Facebook account right before my freshman year in college. Otherwise, I’d have to be reminded about my nerdy  years in high school. Okay, maybe those years are not over…

Regardless, this is a great tool for refreshing your memory with good (or awkward) times. But it’s also a great tool for this time of year.

It’s cool to be able to look back and see all God did on that very same day a year ago, two years ago, or four years ago. I highly recommend that you spend some time on “On This Day” this week, not to laugh at how weird you used to be, but to jog your memory about how good God has been to you this year.

For instance, I can look back and see that today last year, I got to post about our Giving Tree project for needy kids at Christmas. I think back to how each year, that opportunity proved to be a test of my faith and a testament to God’s goodness.

Three years ago, I became friends on Facebook with two of my professors. Both of them had a great impact on my life, stopping me to tell me they were praying for me or donating to my missions trip. I’m thankful for them and so many other professors who influenced me with truth.

Four years ago, during my freshman year, my group leader in the dorm posted how thankful he was for us in his group. Many years have passed, and of that group, I am the only one still at the university. Most are scattered around the world. But I am thankful for their influence during that formative year. Good memories of God’s goodness…

Let me close with this one – three years ago, I reposted a Thanksgiving poem I wrote about six years ago. It was the first Thanksgiving poem I wrote, and I have written one every year since (still working on this year’s!). Lots has changed since I wrote it, but the God I’m thankful for hasn’t:

Dear Lord, I can thank You for much,
For houses and parents and teachers and such.
I could spend all eternity just praising you for
My country, my freedom, my school, and much more.
And though I am thankful for these above measure,
There is Someone worth praising that’s my greatest Treasure.
He saved me and bought me and healed me within
Even though I forsake Him and frequently sin.
He gave up Heaven just so I could be
Spotless and righteous, by His death on a tree.
So, Lord, though my blessings are certainly not few,
The thing I’m most thankful for would have to be You.

On this Thanksgiving Day, use “On This Day” as a tool for your thankfulness. After all, “On This Day” could have – for every day – a statement that says, “On this day, God was good.”

Friends Day

facebook-friends-dayIn case you live in a hole and didn’t see the millions of videos on your news feed, Facebook had a “Friends Day” this past week.

I, like most, watched my video…and found it disappointing. First of all, the “friends” they included were pretty much all my family. While I love my family and appreciate them, I thought it was supposed to be “Friends Day” not “Family Day” (although I’m sure they’ll come up with a way to make money off that day as well). The few friends it did include were friends from years ago or just random acquaintances that I don’t really hang out with. Some were embarrassing pictures of my before-the-beard era (shudder!).

So yeah, Facebook failed me. Hey, at least I wasn’t like the people who tried to make videos only to have Facebook tell them they didn’t have enough friends for that. Ouch…

I think I know why Facebook can’t get it right when it comes to my friends. Because my friendships go much deeper than mere social media. In fact, my closest friends probably aren’t the ones always popping up on my news feed or posting selfies with me. Because our friendship is beyond that.

The relationship I have with my closest friends is more like what Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 about his relationship with the Thessalonians (whom he did not know for very long, mind you):

“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

friends-day-facebook-videoYou see, my real friends aren’t the ones who just like my photo. No, they’re the ones I can go to coffee with and talk about life for hours on end. My real friends are the ones I can be vulnerable with. I can admit my flaws. I can take off the mask. I can feel free to wipe away the smile and admit my life is falling apart. And they’ll listen. And they’ll care.

And I know they’ll still be friends with me after all that.

I love my friends. God has blessed me so deeply, and I’m beyond words to describe the debt of gratitude I owe so many people in my life. I’ve been thinking about this for weeks, but only now have I found the words to express how grateful I am for my friends.

I hate discussing politics with people I don’t know very well, because it seems to hinder relationship-building. But I have one friend with whom I can discuss any topic, no matter how controversial, no matter how dumb my argument is…and he’ll still be my best friend.  He’s pretty awesome.

I have another friend who always invites me to his room, lets me borrow spiritual books, and engages in deep spiritual conversations with me. He loves to help me in the various tasks I have to do around campus and without him, my life would probably have fallen apart a long time ago. He’s pretty awesome too.

I have a friend who can make me laugh one moment and cry the next as he shares his burdens with me. I have friends who will still hang out with me even though I spend the whole time blabbing on and on about my problems (and probably giving some bad advice). I have friends who will text me and say they’re praying for me. I have friends who confront me when I’m wrong. I have friends who give me good counsel when I need it. Yes, my friends are super awesome!

For a long time, I’ve prayed for a mentor. Someone older and wiser who could help me prepare for ministry life. And I’ve never really had that. But God’s shown me that He’s already given me some, just not quite what I expected. He’s sent some younger guys, maybe just a few years older than I am, who have taken so much time to invest in me. Friends at church. Staff at college. I am forever indebted to these people for making me what I am today.

Yep, I’m a people person. It’s not like I’ve had any trouble making friends. But building deep friendships has always been a lot harder for me. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s just that during my childhood and teen years, I moved an average of every six years. Just when I would develop a deep bond with someone, I would move away or they would. But in recent years, God has really opened up the door to building deep relationships with a some amazing people.

640_Facebook_Friends_Day_2016_2016_02_04_13_05_57_0So yeah, I love my friends. You know who you are. Ya’ll are pretty awesome. Thanks!

No, this isn’t some cool video. But I think it’ll do…

Happy (belated) Friends Day!

-M@