To be thankful means to be pleased and relieved.
I am thankful for so many things, but the thing that I am most pleased and relieved about is being home. To be honest, thankful is an understatement. I am more than pleased. I am over the moon. I am more than relieved. I am consoled.
Don't get me wrong, things haven't been ideal, but that's life. One thing that I have learned this year is that you have to choose to be happy. Thankfulness is a choice in a world where so much goes wrong. You've got to hold on to it as if your life depended on it, because something is always coming to snatch it up. Traffic. Job. Cost of living. The news. Disappointment. Heartbreak. Life.
A couple of years ago, I remember being very frustrated with my faith. I refused to subscribe to the normal "God, I need this" prayers I felt were taught at church. To tell the truth, I was rebellious against a lot of things I was taught at church at the time. They would teach us you need make time for God, you're ungrateful if you don't. My prayers got shorter and shorter. I would literally wake up and say "thank you for waking me up another day" and that would be my only prayer for the day.
I'm glad I did though. I rebelled against the traditions of men and found Christ. I also found what it means to truly be thankful.
Did you know that we are wired to remember negative things as a survival tactic? We remember what to avoid, so we won't get hurt. Think about it. It's a lot harder to remember a cool breeze than a hot summer day. It's a lot harder to remember the person who held the door open for you than the person who cut you off in traffic. It's a lot harder to remember a parent who was there, than a parent who wasn't. Until you make a conscious decision to cherish the positives, negative is literally your instinct.
It gets easier, but you have to start somewhere. Thanksgiving gets a lot of criticism for the tragic truth behind the holiday. It's unfortunate that as a society we keep with traditions regardless of their origin, causing pain to those who are not the majority and spreading ignorance. Those wounds are not easily healed.
However, I hope that all of us can live better lives by choosing to be thankful. It's more than one day in the year. It's a lifestyle change. It's an everyday decision.
So much is out of our hands, but we can choose what we focus our eyes on. I hope you found something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. As this year comes to an end and another starts, I hope you celebrate what pleases and relieves your soul. I hope your heart runs free on a marathon of thankfulness, until next Thanksgiving and beyond. I hope it changes your world as it changed mine.