During the month of November, many people’s focus tends to turn to thankfulness. Thanksgiving is a good time to take a moment to thank God for the things we have and the people around us. But gratitude is not easy for many people to embrace, especially those who have recently experienced struggles and difficulties. This year, be deliberate about your gratitude, especially if it does not come naturally for you.
One of the first lessons young children learn when dealing with other people is to say “thank you.” Even at a young age, children know they are supposed to thank someone for doing something nice or giving them something. As we get older and experience the challenges of life, it might be difficult to be truly thankful. But just as we needed to learn it as a child, we sometimes need to relearn thankfulness. If you have become worn-out by this life and aren’t feeling grateful, stop what you are doing and take a few minutes to think about what you can be thankful for.
Be Thankful for the Little Things
Some people think they should only be thankful for the big things in life. A nice job, big house, or new car are symbols of a successful life, but these are not the most important things in life. A loving family, a supportive church, compassionate rehab staff, or the completion of a treatment program are some of the things that really matter. The same is true about the little successes in life, such as being sober for one more day, having a positive conversation with an estranged family member, or submitting a resume for a new job. When you are in recovery, it is necessary to focus on the little things so that you don’t become overwhelmed by big challenges. Think of the things you have accomplished this week, no matter how small, and think of the positive interactions you have had with others, no matter how seemingly insignificant, and remember that each of these is a small part of the overall goal toward complete healing.
Be Thankful for the Challenges
Some people think they should only be thankful for the positive things in life. Stable finances, good health, and solid relationships are definitely things to be grateful for, but God uses the challenges and struggles of life to bring blessings as well. If you have had trouble with loss of job, health issues, or strained relationships, don’t think of these things as ruining your life, but try to see the direction God is nudging you toward by allowing these negative things to happen. Maybe God is allowing you to have financial difficulties because He wants you to rely on Him more. Maybe God allowed sickness to come into your life because He wants you to pray to Him for healing. Every challenge brings the potential for growth, either in your maturity, relationships with others, or your walk with God. Don’t let these opportunities for gratitude pass you by.
Look for the Kindness of Others
We often overlook the kindness of those who go out of their way to help us. Make a conscious effort to first of all notice the kindness of others, and secondly to thank them. Has anyone taken the time to call you to see how you are doing? Have you had an uplifting conversation with someone recently? Have loved ones told you they are praying for you? Even something as small as a stranger holding the door for you or a store employee helping you locate something should not be taken for granted.
Our interactions with other human beings are meant to be a blessing to us, and God uses others to guide us, encourage us, and pray for us as we travel through life. It’s not always easy dealing with others, especially when something like addiction complicates relationships, so try to see the good intentions of others and work on showing an attitude of compassion yourself.
Find Ways to Show Gratitude
For some people, it is difficult to actually show gratitude because they don’t know how to thank someone or are afraid they won’t seem sincere. Most of the time, a simple thank you is sufficient. Sometimes a heartfelt note or letter will show someone how you feel. You can also “pass it on” and serve others in need. Help at a homeless shelter, serve food to the hungry, help rake a neighbor’s leaves, or make a donation to charity. All these things will facilitate gratitude in your life and will make other people’s lives better at the same time.
Our gratitude should not just be reserved for the people in our lives, but for God as well. God is the one who cares for us, provides what we need, loves us with an unconditional love, and forgives our sins. He ultimately deserves all thanks and praise. There are plenty of ways you can show gratitude to God in your everyday life. You can pray to Him and give Him thanks. You can praise Him in song in or in a worship service. You can share God’s love and message of forgiveness with others. You can live a renewed life that is in line with God’s will to show Him you are thankful for all He has done for you.
Thank God for bringing you to where you are today. Thank Him for keeping you safe and for connecting you with a place where you can receive treatment for addiction and help for a sober life.