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Welcome to our messy table.

Welcome to our messy table.

This week millions will gather around the dinner table to partake in the Thanksgiving meal. For many, Thanksgiving is something to look forward to, something to enjoy, but for some it is anxiety-provoking, heartbreaking and a little messy.

When I say messy, I’m not just referring to our T-shirts splattered with stuffing, gravy and the remnants of turkey. No, often it’s the conversations at our Thanksgiving tables that get a little messy. That’s what happens when you bring together people who share the same DNA but who often have different beliefs, different ways of functioning, and definitely different personalities. Yes, those tables can get very messy.

Messy isn’t necessarily bad. Messy can be entertaining, funny, frustrating, and full of lessons. If you’re not looking forward to the messy Thanksgiving table that you will be seated at this week, read on as I have some advice for you.

1.     No matter how messy it gets, you are together. It may feel stressful and overwhelming, but there is a sense of togetherness that Thanksgiving brings that cannot be replicated at any other time. It is a time for connection, a time to grow in relationships with those who are related to you. That may not be your heart’s desire and it may feel very uncomfortable - but the intent is to grow. Keep that perspective as you sit down at that messy table.

2.     You have permission to take a break. You have permission to walk out onto the back porch. You have permission to close your eyes and take a deep breath. You have permission to look at something funny on your phone for a minute in order to press your brain’s reset button if you need to. So, make sure that you take full advantage of that permission to settle yourself and your body before you contribute to the mess in front of you.

3.     Remember this mess does not define you. Whatever your family looks like, however it functions and whatever distasteful things go on at your Thanksgiving table, this does not define you. God defines who he created you to be, and you define who you are. So, if you’re sitting at a messy table, take a moment to gain some perspective. You are in charge of you - and you alone.

This year as you sit at that messy table, remember that the intent is to grow together, that you have permission to step away, and that this messy table does not define who you are. We are thankful that God defines who we are and that he brings us together with those we love at Thanksgiving, even if it does get a little messy.