Some might consider me an expert on gratefulness.
I’ve been interviewed on the subject countless times since our video ‘The Thank You Project’ went viral after first airing on the TODAY show a few years ago. It now has over 100 Million views. I don’t have a category for processing what that kind of virality means. And I don’t feel like an expert on gratitude, I’m just a girl who said ‘thank you’ because it was clearly the right thing to do.
This year, this morning, as I hiked up the mountain covered in frozen grassy dew I reflected on gratitude again. I love how Thanksgiving invites us to pause and reflect on this. Most years the list bubbles out of me and puts a spring in my step. Life is good, generally. But today my walk held a different kind of sobriety. I would say it’s been the most challenging year I’ve had in a long time. The gratitude I feel this year comes from a steadfast perseverance, an appreciation for knowing I’m not giving up on my dreams. I’m determined to hope even if I feel like a fool.
This year has been one of great stretching in all directions. I feel like the challenges have hit us from most sides. But as I look back I think it’s fair to say the challenges have helped me grow and mature. I feel just a tad closer to being who I’m becoming and who I want to be. This is a gift. Challenges bring this gift. They can tear us down but they can also build us up. It’s in how we respond to the disappointments. Are the obstacles things that paralyze or are they opportunities for growth? If we let them lead us to bitterness the result is stagnation. But if we embrace the unmet expectations and the hard ‘no-s’ with gratitude this becomes the very vehicle for growth. Growth and gratitude go hand in hand. They depend on each other. You can’t have one without the other.
So while I’m not where I thought I’d be as I jot down these thoughts, I’m grateful for where I am. I think it’s right where I’m supposed to be. I feel a peace that passes understanding. A peace that runs deeper than the surface, it’s not conjured up but rather it’s given. For this gift I am grateful. I’m grateful for the loving ‘no-s’ that protected me from things I’ll never know. I’m grateful for provision, the kind that shows me that I truly lack no good thing. I have all that I need. And the things I thought I needed - but still don’t have - I can see are things I actually don’t really need, at least not yet, not right now.
So here I am, reveling in a sweet contentment. Grateful for fresh air and pumpkins surrounded by mums, for simple beauty, for family, for life, for today. My gratitude list is more simple this year, but it is true and I am truly grateful.
And for each of you - for your encouragement, your support and friendship all along the way - thank you! I pray my words and my light bring you hope and beauty.
Sending love to each of you. Happy Thanksgiving!