Being thankful is a powerful emotion. And an underutilized one, as well.
Like most people, I tend to only take stock of my life and realize what I’m thankful for after something significant has happened. And that is the wrong strategy to take in life.
In my own case, I seem to only realize that I have a lot to be thankful for when I feel like my life is being destroyed. Maybe that’s the eternal optimist inside of me realizing that things aren’t always as bad as they seem. Or maybe its the Lord bringing it out in me.
In late 2012 and into early 2013 I was able to start looking at all the aspects of my life that were positives. I was coming out of a very unhappy situation and I had a chance for redemption. I had the support of great friends and I felt like I had a great future ahead of me. I was planning a move to Illinois and had already taken some steps to get that move into motion. I had a phone interview for a very good job and had already bought my airline tickets to fly out a couple of weeks later for an in-person meeting. I figured while I was out there, I could start looking for living quarters and start putting down roots. I was never so excited for a new beginning because I was in complete control.
Or so I thought. Instead of taking that opportunity and running with it, I made a mistake of ultimate dimension and got right back into the unhappy situation I had just gotten out of less than two months earlier. That mistake cost me my move and cost me a lot of my friends. It cost me my dignity and my self-respect. And a lot of wasted time and money.
But fate was able to extricate me from that situation, in the most unpleasant and painful way possible, but it was worth it in the end to be able to be able to escape such misery.
And now, I can stop, and take a look around me and realize that I am, in fact, the luckiest man on the face of the earth. And now, I have the chance to make the most of my life.
First, I am thankful for my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I had an amazing experience with the Holy Spirit in 2013, and I wish I had held onto that a lot more than I did in the years that followed, but when you’re involved with people who are evil, it makes it difficult regardless of how strong your faith is. I can say, now without question, my faith is unbreakable. I will carry it with me for the rest of my earthly life.
Second, I am thankful for my family and my friends. I don’t deserve the friends that I have. They are the greatest anyone could ever hope for. I have turned my back on them, denied them, ignored them and eliminated them from my life, though against my own will, I still allowed it to happen. And while I was disconnected from them, I leaned on my family. My mom and dad are both elderly but they are always there for me when I need them. As for my friends, nearly all of them have returned to me and for that I will be forever grateful. They will never again suffer the indignities they suffered before.
Third, I am thankful for my freedom. It’s amazing how people can change you, and not in good ways. For instance, if you are in a relationship or marriage, your significant other should want you to be the best person you can be and remain true to yourself. I am thankful that I am free to be me. I can do what I want, when I want, where I want and how I want without any interference from anyone. I’m not in a situation where I am expected to make anyone else happy, and I am especially happy to be away from people who only wanted what they could get out of me. Being single is a truly blessed feeling.
Fourth, I am thankful for all that I have. My material possessions. Money in the bank. A nice home. A dependable vehicle. They may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but I am very happy to have them. They are things that make me happy and that I enjoy.
Finally, I am happy just to be alive. For 25 years I told everyone I would never see 40. I don’t know why I felt that way, it was just an overwhelming feeling I had. Kind of like a premonition. In many ways, it may have held me back, because I never wanted to really commit to anything because I didn’t figure I would be around to see anything through. I realize now that was the wrong attitude to take and hopefully I realize now that I have another 40 or 50 years to accomplish everything I have ever wanted to accomplish.
This March I’ll be taking in Spring Training baseball in Arizona for the first time, in person. That’s a dream I have had for years that until now, had no chance of being realized. And if my month-long experience is a good one, I am planning to make a full-time move to the desert southwest. There I can make a real fresh start, from the ground up. And that opportunity comes along very rarely in life, and I will take advantage of it.
I have so much to be thankful for. And I am most thankful for the second chance I have been given to do things the right way. I am not shackled by my mistakes any longer, I am not tied to empty words or stupid promises. I am free and I have everything I could want in my life. And to anyone who feels like they are at rock bottom and they have nothing to be thankful for, just think about this. Instead of focusing on the things that are making you miserable, step back and think about all the blessings you have in your life. I know that can be a significant challenge, but if you can do it, believe me, its worth doing it.
Life is not bad, life is good. But you have to eliminate the negativity, whether it be people or possessions or addictions or whatever is causing you strife. Sometimes those things are removed independently of any action, and I was lucky in that respect. I was saved from my miseries without really having to fight them. But if you do have to fight them, fight with all that you have. Don’t back down. Don’t go back into the same patterns and deal with the same people. Life is worth living and it is worth protecting. At all costs.
In closing, let me say that if you just ask God to help you, you can absolutely depend on the fact that He will. It may not happen overnight. But I can say, without hesitation, that God has delivered me from every bad situation I have ever found myself in, and if you just trust in His plan and realize that everything will work out in the end, the road you are traveling will be a lot less difficult. Be thankful for what you have and give all that you can to make sure you utilize the power of being thankful every day, not just when you are at rock bottom. Be thankful for your blessings every day of your life.