Today I saw a post on Facebook by someone I know…a youngster having to grow up fast. “I may not have everything I want,” she said, ” but I sure enough have everything I need in life…” She was expressing appreciation to those who have supported her, obviously very thankful. It was encouraging to see that because I dont see it very often…not in public and not in private life. Like this young lady, many of us had to grow up fast, maybe faster than we wanted to, though we didnt realize it at the time. It is often self induced but the truth is when it is all said and done, we end up reflecting on what is really important in our lives. It is not the material things or the “feel goods”, but rather, life itself that we tend to lose perspective of. Even in adulthood we often take for granted the things we should be grateful for. That attitude is often reflected in how we live our lives. We become self absorbed, self serving and we tend to view the gifts we have been given as inherent rights. Trouble is, we dont always see it and when others try to tell us, we dont want to listen because we arent open to an opposing perspective. So I thought I would do what God led me to do today and write something as a reminder to us all…a small sampling of the many things we have to be thankful for.
Be thankful for God for making everything else that you have to be thankful for possible.
For your ability to touch and feel the warm embrace of a loved one (as well as that phone that almost never leaves your hand). To see the beauty of the world, its colors and shapes…the clear blue sky, the ocean, the colorful trees in autumn (and the icons on the phone). For your ability to hear the birds singing and the rain falling (and your iTunes downloads). To smell the honeysuckle blooms and homemade apple pie…and to be able to taste their sweetness. To be able to express yourself through speech and progressively learning to communicate effectively (and for the patience of those around you who endure your occasional inability to do so).
Be thankful for your Parents for creating you, for giving you life and sustaining it for you. For providing the basic necessities of life…for giving you all that you ever needed and for not giving you everything you ever wanted. For having the discipline to force you to do what you did not have the discipline or maturity to do on your own…chores, school, homework, so that you would learn to be responsible, to graduate and have an advantage. For hanging with you when you were at your worst and for encouraging you when you were at your best. For disciplining you and not allowing your self pity to affect their judgement about what is best for you. For being the foundation for your values and for demanding respect. For teaching you the difference between adulthood and maturity.
Be thankful for your Grandparents. If for no other reason at all, then for doing for your parents what they did for you.
For the rest of your Family for loving you unconditionally and supporting you.
For your friends…your true friends (the ones you may not want to recognize as your true best friends) for their companionship and for loving you unconditionally. For giving you a means to vent but not encouraging you to say or do something that you know to be wrong. For encouraging you to take the hard right over the easy wrong and not pressuring you or leading you down the path of temptation and excess.
For your teachers for their knowledge and dedication to your education and your future…and for not accepting your excuses for not meeting their standards.
Be thankful for your disappointments for keeping you grounded.
Be thankful for your health. It will never be perfect and will get progressively worse as you grow older but if your heart is beating, you are breathing, eating, moving and communicating…be thankful.
Be thankful for your mind so that you may be able to think, rationalize, strategize, improvise, communicate and dream.
For your mistakes and the lessons that come from them.
Be thankful for the challenges of life for being the obstacles to which you will learn to navigate the rest of it successfully.
So you see…It is not the life you have, but rather, what you do with it that defines you. Your defining characteristics come down to whether or not you are willing to put first in your life those things that you really have to be thankful for.