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There’s an amusing juxtaposition in faith, amusing to those of us who have developed some hearty gallow’s humor anyway.  I think of it every time I sing the sweetness of those words, “Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea…

I always want to say, wait, have we really thought this through? Anybody feel any hesitation there?

All in good fun here, but Psalm 34:18 actually tells us, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Some versions say a contrite heart, or those who are discouraged, but a crushed spirit works just fine, too.

He does indeed! There is truth to them there words. It’s very counterintuitive, to say the least. “Lord, break my heart and crush my spirit, so I may grow closer to you,” is simply not a prayer we send up very often. I have been so blessed the few times I have had the wherewithal to do it. Lord, I surrender all with a broken heart, a crushed spirit, and simply place myself in your hands.

I’m pondering this as Thanksgiving draws near, that family holiday captured in Hallmark cards and Norman Rockwell paintings, often enshrined in so many expectations. Amen to those who have normalized Thanksgiving, who take it with a grain of salt, but for those of us from the Addams family, there can be, uh issues there.

Holidays can be tough on some people. They are days often enshrined in expectations, in hype, in the idea that anybody who is everybody is traveling to sit down with family and enjoy a feast together, so if you are not, or if your family is gone, or a family not off the pages of a Norman Rockwell calendar, it can be a lonely time.

Gratitude is really the key to some peace, joy even. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is the secret to happiness, but doing that often requires some surrendered expectations. Expectations often revolve around what we believe is “normal,” what we feel we are entitled to. I call them “enshrined expectations,” because sometimes we build a shrine around them and they can be hard to let go of.

As some of our elders like to quip, “today is a good day. Today I woke upon the right side of the dirt.” Yep, not only are lowered expectations somewhat amusing, and a merry heart is good medicine, but they free you up to take pleasure in the little things and to be grateful for small favors.