I have a really blessed life. Yet, it has not been completely easy; I have memories of awful heartbreak, the crying over Calculus homework I did not understand, being scared that my family was going to leave the faith, finding myself without a best friend, and even the stress of trying to seem like I have my life together as I grow older (plus everything in between).
Even with my struggles and hard times, I will still say that I am blessed and grateful! I don’t think I would willing choose those struggles, but in every one of them I look back and can only think of how glad I am they happened.
Yes, you read that right; I am glad that I have suffered because it has lead to me growing as a person. The hard times I have gone through reminds me of the quote “It’s not our ability that shows us what we truly are.. It’s our choices” (Dumbledore). I think that speaks volumes and can be taken into a Catholic context. Your character is shown in how you react (especially how we react in bad, more so than good). It’s easy to praise God in the good, but we need to remember to praise Him in the bad times as well (insert Job quote)
This Thanksgiving, we may or may not be with our family, we may not have food to feast on, and it just may not seem like how we believe Thanksgiving to be. No matter how bad things are in our mind, we are still called to be grateful. Then in the process of being grateful, you become more aware of the good things that you have and can focus on those.
Now this is all easier said than done, but it can be done. Story time!:
I had a discipleship team at my home parish and knew many of the ins and outs of NET. Then after spending four years with a NET team, I discerned that I was called to do NET. I saw the way that the teams interacted with each other and expected my team to be that same way. I have talked about NET and knew there was a California team and decided I wanted to be put there. I told people I got accepted to NET. Many people asked if I thought I was going to be a team leader or informed me that I was probably going to be one. I came into NET wanting these things and figuring I was going to get them. Halfway through training when I was put on a team, I got none of these things.
Instead of being completely upset about events not going the way I thought it was supposed to go or how people reassured me how it would go, I accepted things the way they were. I started to look for things I was thankful for and thanking God for the things that DID bring me joy throughout the day. Finally, I was able to see the goodness in not getting my way and thanking God for His plan.
I kept up this attitude of gratitude (buzz word on NET) and was able to find joy in what I originally thought could never bring me happiness. As I continued praying with my situation, I was able to see that God was giving me so many things I had desired before NET. They were simply buried and I forgot that I wanted them. However, God did not forget; He still planned on fulfilling them.
All this to say, this is possible. Yet, one thing I learned is gratitude needs to be put into daily practice…and this is the perfect time of year to start – THANKSGIVING!
Here is a list of things I am grateful for. I hope this list can give you a head start on some things you are grateful for.
This is actually something I gave up for Lent last year. Not all together, I didn’t want to torture those near me, but I gave up seeking it out. Instead I waited for it to be provided for me. And guess what?! There was a total of two days that I did not get coffee! God knew I loved this is the morning and He made sure people offered it to me specifically
It’s the little things in life. I don’t need a blanket, but when I have one, I get super happy and it’s just a nice moment to remember that God doesn’t just want us to survive, but thrive
These may be people you have chosen or people you are not really close to, but they are in your life and they love you. It’s good to return that love and believe that you are worthy of the community you have
4. Waking up
The most basic thing to be thankful for. You woke up today! That means there is a plan for you!
5. Basic needs
I have a place to live, food to eat, water to drink, and heat. Thank you Jesus for these things and please help those who go without
6. God providing for me
In each of these things above I can clearly see how God is providing for me. This must mean He is also giving me things I cannot see. God is providing for me in so many ways. Be thankful for His help that which is beyond measure
Like I mentioned, when difficulties come it is an opportunity to grow. Each of these opportunities helps me merit Heaven and grow in virtue. I am grateful even for the moments I would never choose for myself. However, now that they have come and I have hopefully come out stronger!
I pray you each have a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving and see all the goodness the Lord is blessing you with!