“So break me of impatience, conquer my frustrations. I’ve got a new appreciation, it’s not the end of the world… This is the stuff that drives me crazy, this is the stuff that’s getting to me lately. In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I’m blessed. This is the stuff that gets under my skin, but I’ve gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing. Might not be what I would choose, but this is the stuff You use.” —Francesca Battistelli
Today is Thanksgiving—the one day of the year where most Americans pause for at least a moment and think about what they’re thankful for. Although we should be thankful year-round, I know how life can get: sometimes we get so busy keeping up with a whirlwind of commitments that we forget to take a minute to pause and reflect. Sometimes school and work and a social life and sports and countless other activities can totally engulf us. When that happens, stress and anxiety take over, and it is, unfortunately, tremendously easy to forget the positives. We develop tunnel vision, only seeing the negative aspects of life that are weighing us down and stressing us out.
As my first semester of college is rapidly coming to an end, final projects and exams and the long list of things I need to do before winter break are sometimes all I can think about. With so many deadlines looming over me, it’s remarkably easy to let stress and anxiety win. But you know what the danger is with that way of thinking? I forget to count my blessings. With all of the other topics crowding my mind on a daily basis, I forget about the countless parts of my life that are wonderful and beautiful and give me joy and happiness and a warmth deep in my soul.
So today, on Thanksgiving, I am going to take a few minutes to push negative thoughts out of my mind and focus on the positive. Here are just a few of the many, many blessings in my life that I’m thankful for:
Family. Although my family and I sometimes argue, annoy each other, and don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything, I know that they will always support me as a person. They might not approve of every single decision I make, but they know that I am my own person and will have to make my own decisions. Some of them might end up being good decisions, and others might be bad; but regardless, I know my family loves me and always has my back.
Friends. Around this time three months ago, I was worrying about how I would make new friends at college. When you made most of your friends in kindergarten and grew up with them, it’s hard to think of making an entirely new social circle. I am so incredibly grateful for all of my friends, both old and new. Whether we’ve been friends for thirteen years or just a month or two, and whether we’ve last spoken a day ago or a few months ago, my friends will always be important to me.
Sisters. A couple weeks ago, I became an official sister of Phi Theta Chi, a local sorority at Winona State. I never thought I would ever join a sorority, but I am unbelievably glad I chose to join IOX. Even though I’ve only known these girls for about two months, I’ve already made some wonderful friendships that I know will last a lifetime.
Food, clothing, and a warm place to call home. All of these things are pretty easy to take for granted, but they are truly huge blessings. Even as a poor college student, I still never have to legitimately worry about when I’ll get my next meal or how I’ll stay warm this winter.
Education. Although I complain about homework and school can get extremely stressful, I know that my ability to attend college is a privilege. Even though I can’t call Winona “home” yet, I honestly love it there and I am so thankful for all of the opportunities WSU has brought and will bring me.
Health and being alive. Being alive is, in itself, a true blessing. While I am here typing this out, breathing and living, somebody else is taking his or her last breath. A”You do not even know what will happen tomorrow,” James 4:14 says. “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” It is not guaranteed that we will wake up tomorrow and be given another 24 hours to live and breathe and laugh and enjoy life. Although we shouldn’t live in fear of death, we should respect it and know that any day could be our last.
Hard times. That sounds like an odd thing to be thankful for, but think about it: Without bad times, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good times as much. I personally believe that no matter what happens in life, God has a reason for it. I may not understand why, but I know that someday in the future, I will get it.
I could probably write a novel of all the small things God has blessed me with that I’m thankful for, but I’ll leave it at that short list for the time being. Now, wherever you’re spending Thanksgiving and whoever you’re spending it with, take a few moments to pause and really think about what and who you’re thankful for, and—even better—let them know you’re thankful for them.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!