by Anita Miles
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Every now and again there’s a certain quote that pops up randomly on various social media outlets and the likes. It goes something like this..."What if you woke up tomorrow to only the things you were thankful for today?" I know it’s a cliche quote and sometimes I can be a pretty pathetic observer with social media and would confess to not paying much attention to it from time to time. Sometimes, the scrolling through is just an easy thing to do when I have an extra few minutes to catch a glimpse of what’s going on in my world and those close to me without having to really think or concentrate hard. But this quote grabs me every single time! And being that it’s so close to Thanksgiving, it is a bit intentional to draw our attention towards this attitude.
Are we thankful? Would people who know us consider us an appreciative or thankful person? Did you know that a thankful attitude has the ability to transform a person’s perspective and even their well being? No matter the circumstances, no matter the many reasons that an ungrateful feeling can seem to be justified, it is God’s will in everything to be thankful. Anything less is NOT God’s will.
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 I am interested to put this "philosophy" to the test this Thanksgiving season and would LOVE for you to come along. I suppose this is not so much of a blog post as it is a group activity for the women of the Pursuing Virtue community. Let’s call it the "Journey to Thankfulness" over the next few weeks. If you would choose to go with us down this intentional path, PV would love to hear from you! Tell us what you may have learned in it. Is it true that a heart of thankfulness lifts your own spirit – even when it would seem there isn’t a whole lot going well in your world? Does it help to shift your focus from the cloud of emotions that may have you feeling a little less than thankful?
In a world that’s filled with chaos, it’s essential to take some time and let the craziness clear. We need to be intentional in collecting our thoughts and expressing our feelings of being thankful! For the "Journey to Thankfulness," I would ask that you journal your thoughts on paper. You get to be the driver of your own experience. There’s something powerful about seeing your words. Your thoughts become real and it reaches a place in your spirit that a fleeting thought can’t go! Over the next few paragraphs, I will detail a few ideas for you, but I will not be able to skim the surface for my own life nor be able to capture your thoughts the way you do.
Over the past few years, in the month of November, I have made a point to write out things that I am thankful for. Back in 2015, I made a bit of my thought life more transparent - and for those who follow me on Instagram, some of this will look familiar. I want to share how I created my own "Journey to Thankfulness." I have gone back to this published journal of mine more than once and every time I read it, it overwhelms my heart with gratefulness. There is POWER in a thankful heart! I have also found that after making my lists, it enhances my prayers, as my gratitude for these things are at the forefront of my mind when I go before God.
My Journey to Thankfulness:
1. I’m thankful for Jesus: Recently in a devotional I was reading, a scripture jumped off of the pages to me – Hebrews 12: 3 "For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." I could never deserve nor do anything to merit the sacrifice of a sinless God who took on himself my sins and the sins of the world. None of us deserve it! But He has loved the world – even those who would spit at him, mock him, and betray him - with an everlasting love that cannot be explained away. Nor will I take it for granted! I’m thankful for Jesus!
2. I’m thankful for my Family (journal entry from 2015): Anybody who knows me well, knows that I adore my family. I feel blessed beyond words to have had the opportunity to thrive in the family I grew up in AND now have the additional blessing of the family I married into as well.
(Since the time of this journal entry, our lives have changed a little bit, so I will reconstruct...) To Jeremy (my wonderful and Godly husband) and my sweet gal, Addie Brooke, my rambunctious baby boy, Levi Elliot; our wonderful parents – Mom, Dad and Pat; my beautiful sisters – Laura, Jeana, and Bonnie; my 3 crazy brother in laws – Don, Gregg, and Brian, and all of their humor; and last but not least, my awesome nieces and nephews – Zach, Hailey, Abby and Blake...I’m so thankful that you exist! You make my life so full just by being in it!! And to our extended families – I’m thankful for the roles you’ve played through every stage of our lives. We have the best!! #lovemyfamily #thankful
3. I’m thankful for my Christian Heritage (journal entry from 2015): Thinking today on some things I was thankful for and this one was at the top of my list. My Christian Heritage. I was born and raised as a 3rd Generation Pentecostal, so my heritage is very rich!! Wouldn’t trade that history for anything! I was also born into a preacher’s home. The older I become, the more I realize how hard the task is and how fine of a line it is to walk in raising a child successfully in the ministry...but both of my parents did a superb job in teaching my sister and me to first of all love God with all of our hearts and then to love people! To borrow an idea from an old quip, our kitchen table was not used as a slaughter house for the people of God. It was the place where we laughed about the good times, talked about our future and MANY times cried together over the people who were hurting and brainstormed to see what we could do to help. I have not one ounce of regret, nor am I ashamed that my father was a preacher of the Gospel of Christ, and was committed to a congregation. I have no reason to be down on the church, although I know its faults as good as I know its strengths. The people who make up the church have been my steady arm throughout the best and the worst of my days. They have taught me, scolded me when I needed it, mentored me in my "who am I?" years and beyond, but mostly they have loved me. I’m very thankful for my Christian Heritage and have no intention to ever walk away from the God who is the center of that heritage nor disgrace the people who made it wonderful!! #thankful
4. I’m thankful for my Friends (journal entry from 2015) : Someone wise once said "there are some people in each of our lives that make us laugh a little bit louder, smile a little bit bigger, and live just a little bit better!!" In my opinion (for what it’s worth) those people are the cherry on the top of life, and they are otherwise known as Friends! I have thankfully been blessed with some of the greatest friends in the world. If I had to live my life without the blessing of friends, I’m not sure I would be of much worth!! My family and friends are the people who make me tick!! I simply can’t imagine having to navigate this thing called LIFE without them! I believe it was Jane Austen that once said "there is nothing I would not do for my friends...I have no notion of loving people by halves. It is not my nature!" If you have known the gift of real friendship in your life, you understand... To my friends, I am thankful for you!! Every time I think of you, my heart smiles! You are truly a gift from God to me! #thankful
5. I’m thankful for The People who have Invested in my Purpose (journal entry from 2015) : To the people who have significantly influenced the destiny of who I have become up to this point, I am so very thankful. As I write this today, I feel like I am in a sweet spot of my life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I would not be here today without the "investors" who believed in me. There have been different stages that different people have had enormous influence on my life and my decisions – but they have all had a significant role. Their investment into my life has been of such priceless value to me, I don’t have enough room to write about it. Those friends and mentors are the same ones that prayed for me, led me and gave Godly counsel – not just counsel that I wanted to hear. I have experienced friendship that gave me more courage in the face of my uncertainties and craziness of the unknown than I could have ever mustered up all by myself. For that gift of your friendship, I am forever indebted. Then there were a few of those same giants in my eyes, who stood flat footed when I would think up something stupid to do and would say to me without fear, "nope – not a good choice!" (well maybe they used a little more tact than that – sometimes....) To each of these individuals, you are very well aware of the role you play in my life. Thank you for just being you! That has been the greatest gift you could have given me!! The time you gave to speak life into me and to be my friend was not taken for granted! #thankful
This year, I can add the Pursuing Virtue Community to my list! I’m thankful for each of you who take the time to stop by each week to read, interact, and message us. We have been blessed to get to meet so many new friends who share our faith and only distance has separated us from knowing each other. The family of God is a beautiful thing!! I have a weakness in being wordy, so forgive me for that. However, I can truly say that just by reproducing this short list and only a few reasons of why I am thankful, my heart bursts anew with gratefulness that God has been so good to this Southern gal – and it doesn’t even begin to tell the story! These are all blessings that really have no material value! The list could go on and on... This will probably be the last time I will write prior to the Thanksgiving holiday – so from the Miles family to yours – may you and yours be blessed! Enjoy your time with your families and don’t forget to be thankful! If you woke up tomorrow with only the things you were thankful for today, what would that be?
Let the "Journey to Thankfulness" begin...