As I’ve gotten older, Thanksgiving is different for me. Our gatherings are much smaller but more meaningful. When I was a kid, we would go to my grandparent’s house or visit my family in Houston. The memories of being surrounded by so much family, lots of food and laughter is something that I will always cherish. Times have changed. Many familiar faces are no longer with us and it’s bittersweet. I have many memories that I share with my daughter but it’s not the same. I miss those times of the past, but it’s made me more intentional about creating new memories.
Thanksgiving is more than a few days of rest, a great meal and some leftovers, it’s actually a time of reflection for me. It’s an opportunity to recognize God’s goodness and grace. No matter what we go through, there is something to always be grateful for. There are benefits to expressing gratitude. Harvard Health Publishing states, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Gratitude is a choice that has significant implications for our lives.
The last 15 months of my life have been filled with enormous change and transition. It’s been difficult and yet, I see the hand of God all over my journey. It’s been something to witness both goodness and hardship exist at the same time. I’ve learned that to endure these difficult seasons of life, we must learn to practice gratitude. Gratitude is an important part of our faith.
No matter what I go through, God is there.
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
I am thankful for my friends and family. I am blessed to have the love and support from them. They accept my imperfections and love me in spite of me.
- I thank God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. (Philippians 1:3-4, NIV)
I am thankful for the provisions that God has blessed me with. I don’t focus on what I don’t have but I am keenly aware of what I do have:
- When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10, NIV)
I am grateful for my health. As my mother says, ‘getting older isn’t for suckers’. The changes our bodies endure are not easy and yet, I am blessed to witness the gift of my body—the resilience, the ability and resolve!
- “Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” (Psalm 103:1-5, NLT)
I recognize my blessings are no accident. Being grateful is essential in recognizing the work of God in my life.
- Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
I’ve made the choice to see the good, to be grateful, acknowledge the grief and loss and create new memories that honor the past, center the present and cast a vision for future possibilities.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the CEO of Soulstice Consultancy, founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation (r2fdn.org) and the author of 4 books including the recently released, Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy. She is also the host of the Tapestry podcast.