Thanksgiving. The day we as a culture choose to stop and intentionally be grateful. The one day a year where it’s popular to cultivate thankfulness that would be better if already a common habit.
I’ve been spending some of this Thanksgiving weekend thinking about what makes me give thanks. Earlier this year, I finally picked up a pen & paper and started trying to jot down three things to rejoice over at the beginning of each day. I’m not always successful, but it’s been fascinating to see a commonality of little things and to see odd trends pop up.
So, here is my gratitude list consisting of 9 atypical things, things you wouldn’t hear commonly trotted out at the holiday table.
That God kept me from the things I thought were in my best interest
Retrospect is 20/20. I’m grateful that God, in His kind sovereignty and wisdom, kept me from attaining so many things I wanted this past year. When they were ahead of me, they were all I could think about; behind me, I can perceive the damage they would have caused.
The space heater under my desk
I rejoice and give thanks every morning when I turn it on. I can’t focus when I’m cold, so this little machine has been making me a better employee.
The fact that I can skip a workout now
Not that I plan on making it a habit, but the fact that I can skip the gym for a day and not hate myself is amazing to me. When I started pursuing a healthy lifestyle, I put too much emphasis on my time spent at the gym, and not enough on proper sleep and taking care of myself when sick. As a person who pushed myself at the gym when I really shouldn’t have in the past, I’m so thankful that current day me is better balanced and not obsessed.
The amount of time I’ve spent on airplanes this year
I HATE flying; it’s a wearisome, stressful process in my eyes. Yet, I’ve discovered that some of my best thinking happens in airports and on planes, especially when it’s a red eye or a late night flight. I’m thankful for how much time I’ve had to think like that this past year.
Being on the losing side of both politics and football
I become acutely aware of my tribalistic tendencies when I’m on the losing side. I’m thankful that I’ve had plenty of opportunities this year to grow as a person and use losing to help me break free from the cult mentality of a tribe.
GOOD coffee from a real mug
I’ve had enough awful cups of coffee this year to get me through a lifetime. I am SO thankful for good coffee – especially the kind that can be slowly sipped out of a real mug, not a travel mug.
Distance from my family
I miss my family every single day. Yet, living in a different state than they do has helped me treasure time spent together and our traditions so much more. Distance doesn’t just make the heart grow fonder – it slaps you across the face until you’re acutely aware of what a good thing you have going.
The sheer number of uncomfortable moments I’ve had this year
Since graduating in May, it’s as if my comfort zone is perpetually being broken. While not fun, moments spent becoming uncomfortable have been growing, eye opening, and reassuring of my ability all at once.
A season of spiritual drought
Finally, as hard as it’s been, I’m thankful that I experience seasons of spiritual drought, when God feels far and I doubt myself. Those seasons build greater faith, teach me to pray in new ways, and lead to sweet seasons of spiritual growth. I need both the hills and the valleys.
Gratitude is best cultivated daily, not yearly. What atypical things in your life are you thankful for?