This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my wonderful family, meaningful and enjoyable work, a roof over my head, and food on our table.
I really am.
But when I think about it, I remember that present realities–and things I experience as good–aren’t all I have to be thankful for.
Each year when Thanksgiving rolls around, most of us probably spend at least a few moments reflecting on the things in our lives we are feeling thankful for. We might even tell others about them in a gathering of family and friends, or share them on social media.
But I’m not sure many of us spend time expressing gratitude for what’s in the past–some of which we never would have said we were thankful for at the time.
This Thanksgiving week, I’m taking a few moments to remember some of these things in my own life. While I may have thought they were tragic or unbearable at one point, I can really appreciate them now. Expressing this kind of gratitude is one way to follow biblical advice (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). And something tells me this exercise could be very good for our well-being. So here’s my expression of thanksgiving for some surprising blessings.
What I’m thankful for today:
1. Bedtime. I’ve always been a night person, and when I was growing up I hated bedtime. I would lie awake, thinking about all the things I’d rather be doing. Now, and with increasing appreciation, I often can’t get to bed fast enough at the end of the day.
2. Singing hymns. When I was growing up, I enjoyed some of these songs but really wanted to sing more of the newer praise songs that felt more vibrant and engaging. Now I really appreciate those old hymns, the depth of their theology, and the fact that I know the words to so many of them.
3. Being forced to write in cursive. My third-grade teacher was a real stickler on this (and several other matters), and she refused to accept work unless it was completed in cursive. For some reason, my fellow students and I strained against these bonds. But she stood firm, and I’m not sure I would be able to write in cursive today if she hadn’t.
4. Moving to the city. When I was a 13-year-old country girl, I thought my world was ending. Now I am so thankful for what that difficult transition did for me. I wouldn’t trade the experience of living in any of the places I have.
5. Swimming in gym class. When I was in ninth grade, I cursed the school pool and suffered anguish in that school-issued swimsuit. I did my best to avert my eyes from the awkward boys in their feeble coverings, and I just waited for it to be over. But the swim instruction I received in those two weeks was nearly all I got, and it turned out to be helpful.
6. Breaking up with that boyfriend I thought was so right for me…and that one…and that one…). My husband and I have been married for almost 24 years, and I’m so glad I didn’t end up with anyone else.
7. Spending time with people I didn’t choose. This experience is becoming a relic in our choose-your-own-adventure society. I didn’t always want to be thrown together with the people around me, but I learned from every single one of them.
8. My middle name. Let’s just say it’s a biblical name and I felt it was awfully fuddy-duddy when I was growing up. (I wished for something modern and exquisite like Renee, Courtney, or Jessica.) Now I think it’s lovely, and I appreciate the meaningful gift my parents gave me.
9. Onions and garlic. I once found them abhorrent. Now, just thinking about them, my mouth is watering. Literally. Right now.
10. All the jobs I hated. Data entry was incredibly boring. It would be difficult for me to describe how much I hated telemarketing and waiting tables in a restaurant, although the word “loathsome” comes to mind. Now I am thankful for what I learned from each job–not to mention the empathy I gained for people spending their days in similar work.
What unlikely blessings are you thankful for?
© 2017 Amy Simpson.