The Gift of Being Thankful
Appreciate Life and God's Love Every Day
Reminding yourself to be thankful for all of the blessings in your life is an uplifting experience. Having great appreciation for life and all the opportunities for happiness it brings--large and small, is a reward in itself.
I have always loved balloons. When I was a little girl, I thought a balloon was something so special, I became filled with joy with the prospect of getting one and having it to play with for even a little while. Balloons still make me happy, to this day. They are so brightly colored, so full of softness, beauty, and fun. To me, they represent much more than a piece of rubber filled with air, with color painted on. The whole of what a balloon is, is so much more than the sum of its parts.
A balloon can be seen as a metaphor for happiness. Being alive for a while, filled with the lightness of light, it reminds me to be filled with the spirit of God and His goodness. I like to think of balloons as little vehicles that can deliver joy and delight, that can show us that being able to use even the air we breathe is a very special gift. Then, once the balloon is burst, you get to keep the joy it brought to you, inside, and that joy not only is uplifting, spiritually, it is something you get to share with others.
Balloons can also teach us that we too can rise above anything in life that might try to pull us down into the dumps, spiritually. Even when going through tough times and trials, you still get to choose how you will respond, and how you will allow yourself to feel.
Without Downs, There Are No Ups
It's not possible to live a life where there are no obstacles to be overcome, no mountains to be climbed, and no hurdles to be leaped. No matter who you are, you're going to face both good and bad times in the journey of your life. And I hope you know that anything and everything you and I go through that does not take us out of here forever, can make us stronger and wiser. Notice that I said "can" instead of "will." I chose that word because it is possible to go through things and not learn the lessons your life is trying to teach you. The learning of a lesson, like the learning of anything else, is a choice.
None of us want to go through hard times and struggles, but if you choose to continue living, they are inevitable. And even though it sometimes seems that troubles are all I’ll ever get to go through in this life, I've learned to fight anxiety and worry, to find peace in the love of God, and solace in knowing I will never compromise my belief in Him, no matter what. During times when I feel anxious or I'm tempted to wallow in self-pity, I find comfort in this famous passage from Ecclesiastes. It is what convinces me—even when doubt seems more sensible than faith—that trouble really doesn’t last always.
"For everything there is a season, And a time for every matter under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to seek, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate, A time for war, and a time for peace."
If your life is like mine, sometimes troubles seem to loom so large and ferociously that you have to work really hard to believe in your heart that it will not last always. It can help a lot, I've found, to close your eyes and remember what inner peace feels like; to reconnect with what it means to truly be thankful for your life. When you find a way to be grateful, to feel and to have genuine heartfelt gratitude to God just for being alive, that's when obstacles, mountains, and hurdles—the suffering side of life, becomes inconsequential.
Reconnect With What's Real
Remember when you were a child? When everything seemed new and fresh, and brightly-colored, interesting and exciting? When the sky looked bluer, and the wind felt nice and soft as it caressed your cheeks on a windy day. Remember the first time you held the string of a flying kite? Remember how beautiful that multi-colored kite looked to your young eyes? Against the clear and blue sky above? Remember playing hopscotch on the sidewalk, coloring with crayons or admiring beautifully colored marbles? Remember hide and seek and how much fun it was to look for and to find your friends or siblings? Remember the feeling of pure joy? Remember how it felt when you were playing outside in summer and it started to rain? Remember how warm those first few big drops felt? Then, after those big drops there suddenly came a lot of smaller drops that got colder and colder, and then it started to drench your clothes and then your mom or dad said you had to come inside and change. Remember that? I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have to reconnect with the joy of childhood to remember how it really feels to be truly happy; to really enjoy life.
Recognizing The Importance of Simple Things
Is it fair to speak about the beauty of something like a balloon when God has created so many things in nature that are so much more beautiful? But, if you will stop for a moment to think about it, what is it that makes the balloon a balloon? Isn't it the air that is contained inside of it? And isn't it the air that makes it light, able to rise high above the ground, defying even the forces of gravity and inspiring us to rise above our troubles, spiritually? I say to you that something man made, like a balloon, is beautiful mostly because God has made what ultimately gives it its gift of light. The air inside the balloon is something to be thankful for.
And even though the beauty of a balloon is temporary, for me it underscores how important it is to reconnect with things you loved when you were a child. Doing so can help you to reconnect with the innocence of being a child, and with the joy of recognizing the importance of simple things. In the same way, when troubles seem more plentiful than anything else in your life, you have to find a way to reconnect with the simple things, and that includes every blessing God has bestowed upon you. Everything that makes you, you. I think that when you can do this, God will open up a whole new world of understanding for you. You will realize how much you take for granted every day, and how much you need to be thankful for. You will stop taking for granted the very life God has given to you. You will learn to consider that life is a special gift from God, and that not everyone who was here yesterday is still here today to enjoy that gift. But you are. So be thankful.
Appreciate All Gifts From God
Be thankful for every breath you take. When you remember that being able to breathe is a gift from God, how can you stay down in spirit? When you know you must learn to make the most of every breath you take effortlessly, remembering that simply breathing is not easy for many, you will remember not to take breathing, simply, for granted.
Remember to appreciate the beauty of how God created everything inside you, and everything in nature, to work together in a grand design that is amazingly perfect. Remember all that God has given us, to be, to use, and to enjoy, and you will understand that there is more to life than your troubles. When you see a patch of wildflowers growing in the park, you won’t overlook them or take them for granted. You’ll take them into your consciousness, admiring their color and their beauty. You’ll thank God for allowing you to be able to see them, and to appreciate them. Each flower has a uniqueness about its color, its aroma, and even its touch. God created them to give you something beautiful to behold.
The next time you find yourself outside on a warm, sunny day, I hope you'll have a greater appreciation for how the sunshine seems painted or poured onto the landscape of the day. I hope you'll know that God created that sunshine for you, to give His greatest creation something beautiful to behold. Something permanent, to always bring back the light. I hope you'll realize that no human on earth ever has or ever will be able to create a painting that can capture the fullness of the beauty of a sunny day on earth.
The more you appreciate the love of God, and the wonders that He has placed within nature for us to know, to rely on, and to behold, the more you will begin to see that your troubles, the ones that seemed so big before you put them in perspective, aren’t really that big, after all.
It is because of His love for us that there are no real obstacles between you and God, only imagined ones. There are no roadblocks. No mountains or hurdles of any kind. You can reach out and touch God any time you want, because he has given you an inner spirit that no one can shackle or destroy.