With Thanksgiving Day coming next week, many people are making plans for the holiday season. Some will be carrying on time tried traditions. Others will be making new traditions. When our family dynamics change, our traditions change. A lot of people are not a fan of change. But change is not always bad. All we can do is embrace it.

My family had the same traditions for many years. Right up until the death of my grandparents. I miss those days. People are born and people die every day. This changes things.

It happens to every family at one time or another. Marriage, divorce, births, and deaths are all things which change the guest list at family holiday functions.

Nothing is more important in our lives than our relationship with God and with one another. I am most thankful for my personal relationship with God. He saved me when I did not deserve it. While I often mention my salvation, it is much rarer for me to mention how I did not deserve it. Think about something for a minute. Jesus died on the cross because God knew we are all sinners. Now, think about the life you lead. I have. If I got my just reward at the end of this life, I would not enter the gates of Heaven. Would you?

Not everyone who enters our life is meant to be there forever. Some people are put in our lives to serve as lessons. We are put in some people’s lives to be a lesson to them. But not everyone is meant to be with us forever. You may be thinking this way of thinking is not very Biblical. It is very Biblical. There is a story in the Bible about Abram and Lot. I am going to paraphrase and oversimplify the story. But it goes like this.

There was strife between Abram and Lot and their herdsmen. The land just was not big enough for the two of them. So, Abram told Lot he did not want to have a problem with him and his folks. He told Lot to choose the direction he wanted to go, and Abram would go the opposite way. They parted ways and the rest is history. There are times people are meant to come into our lives. There is also a time people are meant to leave our lives. Let them go and move on.

You know I love country and gospel music. The two genres are first cousins. They often overlap into each other’s territory. Garth Brooks wrote and performs a song titled “Unanswered Prayers.” The chorus goes like this. “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs. And just because He doesn’t answer doesn’t mean He don’t care. ‘Cause some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

Garth wrote a great song which I believe he got partially right. God answers all our prayers. Just not always like we want him to. I believe that is what the song means when it talks about unanswered prayers. We think we know what is best for our lives. But we are fallible and make mistakes. God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He answers our prayers in His time and His way. If He gave us everything we asked for, our lives would be a mess.

I am the last person on earth to give anyone relationship advice. If you know me, you may even be laughing at the thought of it. That is acceptable. If you are laughing, I deserve it.

But this I do know. Life is filled with people coming and going in and out of our lives. Some stay with us because they are supposed to. Some leave for the same reason. This year I am thankful for every one of those friendships and relationships because they all left me richer. I learned something from each one of them.

If there is one thing, I have learned in this life, it is this. Life is too short for hate. If anyone has wronged me, they have my forgiveness. For those I have wronged, I am truly sorry and ask for their forgiveness. This does not mean we have to break bread and hang out. The fact is, there are some people we all should avoid.

To conclude let me say this. I am thankful for everything God has done for me and my family. We are so blessed. And while I may be writing this while alone, that is okay. God has given me a peace I did not have this time last year. What more could anyone ask for? Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Chris Collett is a longtime resident of Cherokee County.

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