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A Childhood History Lesson

The holiday season is upon us. As we move into November, you will be bombarded with all the things someone else thinks you need. Or more deliberately, the things they think someone else in your life needs (you know, “We have the perfect gadget for that puzzle lover in your life!”). You’ll see jingling commercials, free shipping alerts, “lowest price of the season” ads, and massive pop-ups on every website. You’ll be drawn in all directions. But before things get too crazy, it’s nice to pause and ask, “What do I need?”

When asking this question, especially during a time that’s specific to faith and freedom, I like to look back to tradition. Thanksgiving specifically is rich with history, history that often gets overshadowed by food, football, and modern family traditions. But Thanksgiving actually began with a calling and the story offers much more than you may remember.

We all recall the basic story of the Pilgrims journey across the seas and settling Plymouth rock. We know that the Pilgrims and Indians came together and had a fantastic feast. What we often forget are the points of the story that emphasize the courage, grace, and union that lead us to the pinnacle of this tale. It started with a group of individuals who felt called to practice religion differently. They left all they had to embark on an unknown journey in hopes to practice their faith freely. On this date in 1620, the Pilgrims were only one month into their treacherous trip across seas. It wasn’t until two months later, in the cold month of December, that they finally arrived at their final destination and began to establish the village of Plymouth. They faced a brutal winter ahead, one where half the passengers died from disease, exposure to cold, and malnutrition. It wasn’t until spring that the lucky ones were graced with a gift. They were greeted by Native Americans who were fluent in the English language. Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, took the weak and tired immigrants under his wing and taught them to farm, fish, hunt, and utilize the native plants to their advantage. The skills and lessons they learned saved their lives and almost a year after settling in the new land, they harvested their first crop. The crop was more than just food, it signified hope for the future.

So when asking, “What do I need?,” perhaps you’ll find some inspiration from this story. What we need is often not found in a newspaper or department store email. It’s usually the seemingly simple things that we so easily forget about. Read through the following and consider if it would be useful.

  1. Courage and Guidance- The Pilgrims were courageous and also followed divine guidance. When we don’t listen to our intuition, we feel stifled and stuck. They had no idea what was ahead, but they did it anyways. Try listening more and following the cues. You don’t have to know where it’s taking you, just trust the process.
  2. Resiliency – Hardship after hardship, and they kept going. Many things will occur in life that aren’t pleasing and are downright difficult. But the more time you spend wallowing, the more time you’re dissatisfied. Keep going, it’s the quickest route to things getting better.
  3. Grace and Humility – Grace is everywhere, but to receive it you have to practice humility. Had their egos been on their shoulders, the Pilgrims could’ve easily dismissed the help the Native Americans offered. They could’ve struggled and lost more lives. But they opened up. When you open up and soften, there’s so much more available.
  4. Harmony – An example that people of different cultures can unify and live harmoniously. Everyone on this planet lives a little differently. Look for ways that people are more like you than they are different. You’ll find the time you spent being annoyed by others can now be replaced with enjoying life.
  5. Connection – Back in the day, there were not thousands of daily distractions. People relied on one another. Get back to basics by intentionally thinking of others and creating ways to make more connections.

So as we move into the hustle and bustle, take pause and ask yourself what you need this season. Maybe you find inspiration from the Pilgrims, or maybe it triggers another need like prioritizing quality time with family, not being so hard on yourself, or perhaps having the courage to say “things” are no longer what you desire. Either way, take pause, ask the question, and set an intention for the months ahead.

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