I had every intention to write a blog for Thanksgiving. To write about the gratitude I have in my life for all God has blessed me with. And I considered and thought about it for a good week. Then I ran out of time to consider and think. All I got out was an inspired introduction about how important a holiday it is and how it is overshadowed by the consumerism of Christmas. Nothing more came out of it. This is mostly due to the fact that I didn't take into account how busy I would be last week before I would go off to celebrate the holiday in North Carolina with my family. So for that I apologize.
My procrastination and lack of time may have been a blessing in disguise though. I am now feeling convicted to share my heart about gratitude. It is not Thanksgiving anymore. Is in any less necessary for me to have a heart of gratitude? Absolutely not. In fact, I think in this time of year when cases of depression sky rockets it becomes even more necessary. Consider for a moment what robs people of joy the most. Is it not the cloudy vision of negativity? A focus on bitterness, resentment, and hurt. I won't deny that these things exist in vastness in our world, but life would be more purposeful and more productive if we approach every circumstance with a grateful heart and a positive outlook. The cloud of sadness that blinds us stops movement and growth. It makes us afraid to go forward, and worst of all it makes us afraid to love.
This has been a huge lesson for me to learn. I used to suffer from a pretty significant depression. During the coldest of winter weeks or in the midst of constant struggle I still sometimes find myself sneaking back onto that path. And that's exactly what it is: sneaking. If I don't focus on gratitude, those pits of sadness just sneak up on me without warning. That's why Paul tells the Philippians to think on what is pure, noble, and lovely. Even when it seems as though none of those things exist, there is always something. Always. That in and of itself brings peace to my very being. I live in a corrupt and cruel world, but there is always something to think on that is pure, noble, and lovely. So I challenge you think on your gratitude and what you are grateful for on a daily basis if possible. Since I offer up that challenge to you I'll offer up my gratitude as well. Maybe it will spur on some ideas for you as well.
I am grateful for:
God being the direction in my life
Salvation in Christ Jesus along with His promises
Spiritual family that encourages, challenges, and spurs me on
Stephanie Hart, my discipleship partner who walks next to me in this life and catches me when I fall
My home and housemates who are family within a family
Deb Lang, my roommate with whom I share my room and my heart
Leigh Erickson, my best friend and constant supporter
All of my sisters in my spiritual family
Sarah Jones, my sister by our parent's blood and Christ's blood
Parents, I count myself so blessed because of the love that I came from and gave me a heart to serve the Lord
Jade and Matt (and Rachel), the same love that was poured into me was poured into them, and I count myself blessed to have them as well
Evan and Emily because anyone who has nephews and nieces know that joy
Rayne fellowship, my home on Sundays and my family everyday
Khanh Ngo, who is a great leader and my big brother in so many ways
Eric Steffan, who is teaching me what being loved by a man of God looks like and simply brings me joy and rest when I'm with him
Kelsey and Josh Monroe, Jake Harvey, Albert Warner and others (so many) who were there for me in some of the roughest moments of my life and will continue to be there for me from afar
Access to God's Word
God's will for my life
Music and singing
Lessons learned in struggle
There is so much more. I could go on forever. Just listing these made my heart of gratitude grow so much. Try sharing some of what you are grateful for. It's hard to be depressed when you do.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.