Thanksgiving When You’re Not Thankful

How do you celebrate a holiday when things are rough? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A few weeks ago, I did a podcast with the Mentionables and we talked about depression. It was largely about mental illness, but depression came up. I brought up that when the holiday season comes around, for a lot of people, it’s a happy time, but for some people, it can be rough.

For me, Thanksgiving has never really been my favorite holiday. Just picture being socially awkward due to Aspergers and then also because of that, having a dislike for all of the food served there. I know on my end, it’s really hard when people tell me to eat a lot of turkey. Yeah. Sorry. I don’t play that game.

Honestly, looking back, only two Thanksgivings stand out to me with fond memories. The first was in 1998. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time had just come out. I also had the flu. It wasn’t faked at all. I never faked sickness. I had the flu. I couldn’t be around people at all, so I stayed in my room at home the whole night trying to get through the Forest Temple.

That was an awesome Thanksgiving. It might have been horrible if it had been the Water Temple, but it was the Forest one. That one is not the nightmare the Water one is.

The second one was the first Thanksgiving I had with Allie. We were dating and not even engaged yet and she invited me to be with her family. I’m sure that wasn’t the favorite Thanksgiving of my family since I was away spending it with a girl I was dating, but I remember it fondly.

If the holiday season is here though and you’re not into it because of your own suffering, it’s really understandable. Sometimes, holidays remind us of what is different. It can be really painful seeing other people happy. It can be painful hearing so many people say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas or Happy Thanksgiving.

We know they mean well. They don’t know what’s going on in your life if they say that. If you’re in that position this year, try to remember that these people really do mean well.

The thing is that you are still supposed to be thankful. A couple of years ago or so, someone told me to be thankful for something when you get to the end of the day. If it has been a horrible day, at least be thankful that the day is over.

Also, remember if this is your first time going through a hard holiday season, you’re not alone. Other people have walked this path before. It could be your first time going through it, but it’s been traveled before. There are plenty of people who have walked down it who could be willing to help you as you walk it.

It’s often said that misery loves company. There’s a reason for that. That misery of other people can remind you that you’re not alone. This is a great benefit of groups like Celebrate Recovery. You can go there and know that you are not alone.

That’s something else to be thankful for then. You’re not truly alone.

If you also know someone going through a rough holiday season or think they could be, reach out to them. Give that waiter at the restaurant an extra tip just in case. Give a great tip to the guy who helps you carry your groceries out to your car. Give your Uber driver or deliverer a little extra.

If these people don’t serve you that way, give them a gift card to a favorite restaurant of theirs. If they have children, get some gifts for the children. Even just putting some money in the mail and having it sent that way could help and if you want to do so anonymously, that’s fine too.

If you’ve got a lot more money, do more. I remember the year someone gave us a Nintendo Switch. I still enjoy it and it gave me a lot of hope. Go and secretly pay someone’s electric bill perhaps or take care of their rent or go by them groceries.

By the way, if you’re a Christian, you’re supposed to show this kind of kindness anyway. If they are fellow believers, they are your brothers and sisters. Would you want your physical family going without over the holidays? Then don’t let it be with your spiritual family either.

Not only that, you will really give them something to be thankful for this year.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

The Importance of Giving Thanks

Why does it matter that we give thanks? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I just don’t care for Thanksgiving Day.

I find it odd that when I say that, that means I have to say I don’t care for giving thanks. I don’t really. It’s just the day itself has never been appealing to me. Being on the autism spectrum, I have a strange relationship with food. It’s nothing I am really comfortable around in many cases.

If you ask me what my best Thanksgiving were, I will point to two. The first one was in 2009. A girl I was dating invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family. That girl, as I’m sure you know, is now my wife. I, in turn, invited her to spend Christmas with my family and the day before I proposed to her.

The second was in 1996. This one ranked as awesome to me because The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time had just come out. I also had the flu so I couldn’t be around anyone. I spent that evening not being around food I didn’t care for, but trying to make it through the Forest Temple. Good times. Good times.

Today, I’m still not a food person, and that’s something that often troubles me about Thanksgiving. Hear advertising about Thanksgiving or a remark on the radio about it and all people talk about is the food involved. There’s actually little mention of the idea of, you know, giving thanks.

Giving thanks is extremely important. Just because I don’t care for the rituals around the event doesn’t mean the event itself doesn’t matter. In Romans 1, one of the reasons the wrath of God comes upon humanity is that we didn’t give thanks to God.

When we don’t give thanks for a thing in our lives, we begin to take it for granted. We act like it’s just a sure thing and it will always be there. We have no such promise. None of us is promised another minute. I have no promise today that I will go to sleep tonight. Neither do you.

As I sit here in my office, there are many realities around here. Periodically, my cat will come in here. Sometimes, my wife will come in and if I don’t see her, I see pictures of her all around. I have gifts from friends and several books and pictures on the wall and on the bookshelves. I have gifts from Allie all throughout here too.

None of these have to be.

Now when it comes to taking for granted, some might say that for a Christian, marriage is to be a sure thing. Divorce is not to be an open option for Christians. Yes. I do realize that there are issues of abuse and infidelity, but generally, most of us think we should avoid divorce.

That is true, but that does not mean we take the other for granted. Some of you see that on Facebook I post love messages to my wife six days a week. Why do that? I do it not only to express love to her, but for a reason that could be considered selfish. I do it to hold myself accountable before people. See how I treat Allie and make sure what happens in private matches what’s in the public social media.

Doing this also builds up the love that I have for her. If I give thanks for her every day, I do not take her for granted then as much. I have friends who are single and want to marry. I pray that they will, but I am thankful I am not in that position anymore. That is a gift.

Christianity is something we take for granted. Here we have things like worship wars going on over what style of music should be played, arguments about the color of the carpet, and any number of doctrinal disputes. On the last one, of course, doctrine does matter, but sometimes we think the purpose of Christianity is those disputes. While these are going on, Christians in Iran and China and other places are risking their lives by going to church. Just a suspicion. They’re not leaving a church because the children’s nursery is less than perfect.

We have become so familiar with the Gospel, that we even take God’s love for granted. We take forgiveness for granted. We have heard the message so often we don’t pause to realize what we have been given. If we take those for granted, we will also not take sin seriously. You don’t take Christianity seriously if it’s just a given to you.

That ingratitude towards God will lead to a bitter root in our lives. It will make us more self-centered and less other-centered. That keeps us from fulfilling the two greatest commandments of Jesus. We don’t need to treat God as a given in our lives. His being in our lives came at the price of Christ.

So today, do I still care for the food and festivities? No. Does that mean I don’t care for giving thanks? Not at all. I think financially, our family is poor, but spiritually, we have blessings beyond compare. I am thankful for them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

We Remember

How shall we honor this Memorial Day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was going to do a book review, but I figure today it is better to write about Memorial Day. Today, we honor and remember those who gave their lives. This day is actually not about having barbeques, which is fine with me because I don’t eat burgers anyway and I’ve never cared for barbeques.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating such a day, but too many of us just see today as a three-day weekend. We are talking about the deaths of real human beings who died on the field of battle. These are real human beings who are not going to be able to have the barbeques with us anymore. They left behind spouses, kids, friends, parents, etc. Some events today will have empty chairs sitting at the table. Those chairs will never be filled this side of eternity.

Death is a really serious thing and sometimes we miss that. It’s easy to when we live in an age where you know that the actor in the movie isn’t really dead. We also live in an age where you can get extra lives on that game you’re playing or you can just hit the reset button. It’s fine for fantasy, but real life doesn’t work that way. There are no cheat codes or stunt doubles in real life like that. Death is very real.

As Christians, we can mourn, but we do not mourn like those who have no hope as Paul said. We mourn not for them, but for ourselves and for the loved ones of those who have gone on. This past week as readers know, my wife and I both could have lost each other when a car accident took place. We are not taking that for granted.

Every life is precious and every one of us is a great “might-not-have-been.” We all can contribute something to this world. Maybe you won’t see your name in lights this side of eternity, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have something to contribute. For all we know, the Joe Blows of this world could one day receive a greater honor than the Billy Grahams for doing the most with what they had. We don’t know.

Today then, my thanks goes out to all those who sent loved ones onto the battlefield knowing that it could be the last time they were ever seen. We mourn your loss, though definitely not to the extent that you do. We appreciate the great gift that you have given us. Many men and women sacrificed their lives so that we would not have to live in fear of losing ours to a number of evil causes.

Today if you are celebrating today, by all means, celebrate, but remember that today is more than a day off of work. It is a day meant to remember actual flesh and blood people who have died. Please take some time to remember them today and be thankful for the many blessings that you have that you are prone to take for granted.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thanksgiving 2017

What are you thankful for? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

With today being Thanksgiving, it’s a good day to remember what you’re thankful for. One of my big things in life is to not take anything for granted. Every day is a gift and every blessing I have is something that I am not owed. It’s hard to remember this in an age of entitlements where we want to get what is owed to us. We don’t often want to see what we owe to others. People are more seen through the eyes of what they can do for us instead of what we can do for them.

So not wanting to skip out on what I’m thankful for, let me go through the list. The first of course is salvation in Christ. Forgiveness is really a great gift we don’t think about. It means that someone who has all the power and knowledge in the universe and who you have dishonored with your actions and can do whatever He wants with you and it would be the right thing to do and you would have no defense, decides that He’s going to forgive you because He would rather have you in His presence forever than to have you cast out. The cross and the resurrection are gifts to us.

Many of us also live in places where we have the freedom to worship as we wish. That is a gift. We don’t yet have to fear someone pulling a gun on us for being a Christian. We know church shootings have happened, but these are the exception and not the rule.

Many of us have several Bibles in our homes. These are gifts as well. There was a day and age when the average person could not go through their own copy of the Bible. Now we can. I’m thankful that I have that.

For more personal matters, I’m definitely thankful for my wife Allie being in my life. It means a lot when I’m talking to friends and get to say something about spending time with my wife. It’s not a hope anymore. I have a real and honest flesh and blood person with me. I have someone who loves me for me. I find that just incredible. I never thought I would meet someone like that, and indeed I have. Now I’m the guy encouraging others.

I’m thankful for my own parents as well who raised me in the church. That has become something foundational in my life. My parents often left me free to make my own mind up on matters and my going into the path of ministry was my own choosing. They didn’t know about apologetics until I started telling them about it.

I’m also thankful for my other parents. Mike and Debbie as my in-laws are great to have. We can often rely on each other and be good and faithful companions to one another in many adventures that we’ve had. When Geisler was going after Mike for instance, I was pleased to be one of the people right there making the defense.

With family, I’m thankful for my sister and my brother-in-law. My sister is making her own life for herself in Nashville. My parents I’m sure never thought their children would both live about four hours away from them, but here we are making it the best we can in the world. My brother-in-law Zach is someone I’m quite proud of. He has worked to do something in his life and is now a firefighter. He has matured so much since I first met him.

I’m thankful for my friends. Many of them have been with me through many things. David comes to mind immediately who actually took the great risk of living with me before I married Allie. There’s friends like Chris as well and around here I’ve got to know several guys like Cody and Jonathan, and we helped out another Jonathan and Michael and Sarah some during the hurricane. We have some good neighbors around here and we have a church family and small group that we can relate to. If I spent the time listing all my friends here, it would be far too extensive. If you are not mentioned, it is no slight on you. Please understand that.

I’m thankful for apologetics. Apologetics is something that brought me out of a time of depression and meaninglessness in my life. I used to say that was the great blessing apologetics did for me, but I was wrong. Apologetics is what led me to my wife Allie, which is even better.

I’m thankful for my health. I’m not the healthiest specimen to be sure, but I’m able to move around easily and I seem to have limitless energy. Being on the spectrum is also a plus for me. I have learned to see the world through eyes that are different and think through totally different ways than most people do, and of course, my wife being on the spectrum meant that it was easier for us to meet.

I’m thankful for the intelligence God gifted me with. It’s a gift that I find I can use in most any situation whatsoever. I may not be a handsome man and I’m definitely not an athletic one, but I am one with intelligence and I celebrate that.

I’m thankful for our little kitty Shiro. For all interested also, we are going to have to spend some soon because little Shiro needs some dental operations done. There will be at least one tooth extracted. We just weren’t told about regular tooth cleanings. He goes tomorrow morning. We love our little kitty so please be praying for him.

I’m thankful also for my hobbies. Allie and I can get together and play some games be it Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Mario, Zelda, or anything else. Sometimes she’s just watching me. I’m thankful for all the shows we can watch on Netflix and through the U-Verse and on DVD, such as the Adam West Batman series now.

I’m also thankful for all of you who take the time to read this blog. I find it amazing to know I have some impact on the world out here. I’m also thankful for those of you who listen to the podcast and I hope you’ll be taking the time to leave a positive review on ITunes.

Happy Thanksgiving. Please try to enjoy this time with loved ones.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Things I’m Thankful for in 2012

What do I have to celebrate on Thanksgiving? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I am happy to get back to the blog and see that everyone has still been reading quite faithfully. I’m sorry I have not had anything new to post. I was up in Baltimore celebrating Thanksgiving with my wife’s grandparents. We were gone from Tuesday to Saturday so today I am really trying to sit down and take some time out to write a post in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. I simply wish to share what I am thankful for and hope it inspires you to remember what you are thankful for.

First, I’m thankful for salvation in Jesus Christ. Lately, I’ve been reading Blaise Pascal’s “Pensees” and about the utter sinfulness of man and it’s really left me in a state of mind where I’m thinking more and more about how fallen we are and how much of what we do is tainted with our fallenness. The more I think about it, the more I realize that in most every action we do, I am sure some of our fallen nature is coming through. Pascal writes that we should come to God realizing this, and I quite agree. It is through ideas like this that I am becoming more and more appreciative of the great gift of salvation that is found in Christ.

Second, I am thankful for my wife Allie. I have regularly thought of the Proverb that says “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” It certainly is true. I was one who was quite sure a good girl would never come along but lo and behold, I found one who for some strange reason is absolutely crazy about me and loves me. It is a concept that to this day I do not understand and I will freely admit, I do not fully realize.

Earlier today we were on the phone with Allie’s best friend in Charlotte who had said that I am one of those people who is naturally confident. I told her that no, that is not the case. I have often been very unsure of myself in the past, but somehow, after I got married, that really changed. The affirmation of Allie has transformed in ways that I cannot imagine. Readers of this blog know, for instance, that my diet has expanded a good deal since Allie came along, something that has my parents and several doctors stunned.

Also, I have been learning how to love someone and I find that if there are times Allie does something that disturbs me, that lo and behold, I can realize that I am guilty of the same thing. Strangely enough, it doesn’t seem as big a deal when I do it. It is quite amazing the way we work in this system. C.S. Lewis once said that we should show as much grace to someone to grant them the best of intentions for actions that we do not understand. Marriage is a life lesson in that.

I am thankful for my immediate family. When we were visiting my grandfather-in-law and grandmother-in-law, my grandfather-in-law made an interesting statement. He wanted us to imagine two people marrying and they each have no other relatives alive. They have no brothers. They have no sisters. They have no parents or children or cousins or aunts or uncles. I had never really thought about that before, but it was quite a poignant question. What would that be like?

Family really is a gift. Where I live, I have my parents right next door which can be helpful if we’re in some sort of emergency. In another house, I have my aunt and uncle, a couple in their 80’s at this time of writing. We go over to see them regularly. There have been times we’ve gone out walking and just come back to have a chat with them. Allie likes to talk to my uncle especially about his time in World War 2.

My parents made sure to raise me up in church but they also respected my freedom to think for myself. They didn’t always agree with what I did, although they’d say I was certainly a good kid who never gave them much trouble. I was also in school the kind of lazy student who never studied much and was playing video games constantly. It’s something that made apologetics such a gold mine discovery for me since it gave me something that I could do and really enjoy.

Today, I’m thankful to have my parents nearby with their learning and a lesson is certainly true. The more you grow up, the more you do realize your parents actually do know some things. It’s quite amazing, but they do. I have often told Allie that your relationship with your parents changes dramatically when you leave home. Being now not just someone who has left home, but someone married, I suspect my parents see me in a totally different light.

I’m thankful on the other end for my in-laws. It’s so great that they are incredibly supportive of me and saw fit to trust Allie to me and we are a great match as they know. They are pleased that they have a son-in-law who is in the faith, in the field of apologetics, and who has Asperger’s. I am in a unique position to understand Allie. I remember times when we were engaged where they would call me asking what I thought about what was going on in Allie’s life at times. Sometimes that Aspie perspective is needed.

I’ve found my in-laws are someone I can turn to. I like how my father-in-law refers to me as his buddy and likes to talk apologetics shop with me and really treats my ideas and thoughts with consideration. I like the relationship I have with my mother-in-law as well. She’s someone who is an encouragement to me at times and is a great help to have when it comes to financial matters. Over Thanksgiving, I enjoyed getting to converse and laugh with my brother-in-law. Allie’s family has treated me like I’ve always been a part of the family, not just the grandparents we visited, but her other grandmother in Nebraska who I can chat with on the phone frequently (And who seems to enjoy losing at Words With Friends).

I’m thankful for my friends. My former roommate is still someone who I can count on regularly and I’m thankful for the fun we still share even though once again we live hundreds of miles apart. I’m thankful for other friends as well such as one in Edinburgh, some twins in Charlotte, Allie’s best friend and her husband back in Charlotte, new friends we’re making at our new church, and numerous others. Friendship really is such a great gift.

Speaking of church, I’m thankful for the new church we attend. We’ve found a place that we can call home. Our pastor understands how we are with Asperger’s and takes the time to let us know privately and gently if we need to change something. I’m thankful that he is a man who is open to having someone in the apologetics field being at his church and shows no sign of intimidation or hostility to me because of my field, as many pastors do.

I’m thankful for the house that we live in. It’s my grandmother’s old house which means it’s one full of memories, but I think she would be happy knowing her home is being put to good use. I miss her when I think about it, but I still suspect that somehow she knows what is going on. We are blessed to be a couple starting out and having a house that we can call our own and build our lives together in.

I’m thankful that we rescued a cat last year who has brought an extra touch of joy to our lives. How can we not smile when we see him come to us and give a cute little meow? We joke about how pathetic he is, but it’s a bright spot in our world. It’s a regular ritual in the evening when we try to think of a fun way to let him know that it’s time for “DINNER!” Animals are a great gift that God has given us.

I’m thankful that to this day I still have my health and my mind. I realize I am not the most healthy man out there, but I’m able to function on a day-to-day basis. I’m thankful that I have a sharp mind that is helpful for reviewing data in the apologetics field. At the same time, I am thankful that my wife by and large is able to keep me humble as she can with this. I have to remember she wants a humble man.

There is much in life right now that is difficult for me, including especially our financial situation, but by and large, there is much that is good. I am thankful for so much this year. I look forward to more next year.

In Christ,
Nick Peters