wooden table served with tasty dishes on thanksgiving day

How to enjoy Thanksgiving while guarding your heart.

Yes, you can enjoy Thanksgiving while guarding your hearts. You’re thinking, well, duh? Why wouldn’t I enjoy Thanksgiving? Believe it or not, there are many people who won’t for all kinds of reasons. (I am not posting Wednesday and Thursday.)

Table of Contents

Reasons we may not enjoy Thanksgiving

slicing of pumpkin pie placed on wooden surface/guarding our hearts at Thanksgiving
  1. We don’t like the people we are having to spend time with.
  2. Maybe we don’t feel very thankful.
  3. Stress can certainly takeaway our enjoyment.
  4. We are facing an unknown future.

I’m sure there are many more reasons we could find if we wanted to look hard enough. But today, I am not addressing any of these. Instead, I want to continue what I wrote about last week, boundaries.

Heart Boundaries

I shared last week how we sometimes don’t have a choice at times but to place boundaries around ourselves, but I didn’t specifically mention our hearts. In other words, we have to give ourselves permission to enjoy Thanksgiving. That means we don’t have to feel guilty if we don’t like everyone. We don’t have to feel guilty if our dinner isn’t perfect. If we need to avoid someone to make it work, we can do that without feeling bad.

Proverbs 4:23 states we are to guard our hearts:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

To me, that means we can give ourselves permission to enjoy the moment. We give ourselves some space for not liking everyone and for not accepting rude behavior. For some of us, our conscience is too over-developed.

What guarding our hearts doesn’t mean.

Guarding our hearts is never an excuse for us to behave badly, no matter how anyone else is behaving, especially if we are Christians. No one else’s hurtful remarks and bad manners are an excuse for us to behave like them, It’s never tit-for-tat.

So, how do we do guard our hearts?

First, we remember who we are in Christ. We are redeemed and forgiven.

But what if you are the one that’s been the problem in the past at these gatherings? Perhaps, you have given others a reason to feel the way they do about you. In that case, you remind yourself that what they are feeling is because you have given them cause. It’s up to you to make them see the new person you’ve become. If you are redeemed, let the world see the new you. Behave like a redeemed person.

But what if it isn’t anything you’ve done? The same applies to you. Behave like a redeemed person, and a redeemed person is a new creature in Christ. Because you are redeemed, you are loved by God with holy love. But that doesn’t mean you are a doormat. Christ never was.

Practical ideas for guarding your heart

So if someone says something hurtful, don’t shy away from it. You can even say you find their remarks hurtful and then just walk away. Or if that’s not possible, just walk away anyway. Isn’t it crazy how we don’t get that?

Do you have to seek out those who are mean and hurtful in order to be friendly? Of course, not. There’s a woman I will be around on Thanksgiving. I have tried to talk with her at least five or six times to no avail. Am I seeking her out this time? Nope. And I’m perfectly fine with it. Yep. I’m a very friendly person and do my best to engage others in conversation. If someone doesn’t talk to me, they have a serious problem.

I can’t think of a single verse in the Bible that says we are to put ourselves in harm’s way if we can avoid it. Or that we continue to seek out someone when they’ve rebuffed us often. Even Jesus didn’t do that. But sometimes, you can’t walk away, so that’s when you learn to set up boundaries around your heart so that those hateful remarks cannot penetrate. How?

Establish boundaries ahead of time.

Decide for yourself how those boundaries will work. Will you walk away? Will you avoid them? Only you know what works for you. But remember., guarding your heart is nothing to feel guilty about. Think about those people that cause you the most angst. How can you handle them differently? You could even practice a statement.

You need to find a war to deflect the arrows.

For some of you reading this, none of this is an issue. It isn’t for me, either. But I’ve talked to enough people to know it is for many. My heart breaks for those of you for whom this is true. And, at one time, it was true of me as well, so I do understand.

Remember, you are loved for who you are.

If you’ve made serious mistakes and you’ve asked God for forgiveness, you can stand tall and, yes, in some ways, proud. It takes a really big person to admit their failure and realize they are the ones who have some mending to do and some burned bridges to repair.

We can all make this Thanksgiving special by remembering we can all start over. No matter where you are on this spectrum, I wish you the very best of Thanksgivings.

God bless each of you.