I’ve found that thankfulness is more of a lifestyle than an action. Ironically, I learned this during one of the most trying times of my life.
I worked really hard to graduate from Biola University early. I took extra classes (up to 27 units at a time), balanced multiple jobs (4, to be exact) and ate “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese” at least once a week (which is disgusting). I had a plan. I was going to graduate, get a job that paid around $100K a year, buy a house, marry my high school sweetheart (which I later did) and live happily ever. It was a great idea, but that’s what it stayed as; an idea.
After graduating from college, I found myself jobless for 6 months. It didn’t matter where I applied, what I wore to the interview or my references’ strong recommendations (I’m not sure what exactly they said to recruiters since I wasn’t listening on the other line, but I assume they spoke well of me since I paid them with high fives). I couldn’t find a job.
Cue “the bums.” (“The bums” are when you feel sorry for yourself. It’s essentially a pity party with a sliver of merit because of how life looks.)
As time went on, I was became less and less motivated to do anything. I originally started my days by waking up early to read rejection emails, apply to new jobs and work around the house, but that all stopped 3 months in. Instead, I’d wake up, literally roll on the floor, stare at the ceiling and once I started seeing double then I’d engage with the outside world.
It was a very humbling experience. A once ambitious, and probably a tad pompous, college graduate had become a deadbeat living in his parents’ house. At least in my mind. (I had some great friends throughout this slum in my life who constantly encouraged and supported me. I am very grateful to still have them in my life today.)
I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but I soon got tired of it all. It all being “the bums.” I decided that moping wasn’t going to change anything. I could only change my attitude so I did. Instead of rolling out of bed in the mornings, I began my day by thanking God for 10 things (I still do a variation of this today). “Thank you God for giving putting breath in my lungs, full functionality of my body, good health, parents who love me and don’t kick me out….”
Overtime I began to realize how God had abundantly blessed me, even amidst my unemployment. This realization honestly changed my life. Our situations have not, do not and will never define God’s faithfulness. I found a contentment during that time that has carried into every circumstance of my life. God had, has and will always give me everything that I need.
Perhaps thankfulness was never meant to be an action, something that we do routinely before meals or on the last Thursday of November. Maybe it is meant to ever be on our lips. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reads, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Perhaps part of “God’s will for us in Christ Jesus” is to be content.
Imagine a world where people are content with God’s provision, regardless of their circumstances. A world where people praise Him just as much during the lows as they do during the highs. I think we have an opportunity to create that kind of world and through our speech and language, reveal the glory of God (Colossians 3:17).
May we be a people who don’t see thanksgiving as just a holiday ritual, but way of life. Our God is faithful and deserving of our praise (Psalm 100).