I think everyone has significant moments in their life. Moments that have shaped us and made us who we are, and often, these are not too happy of memories. It’s such a tragedy that our lives encounter terrible heartache, yet it’s how we grow and mature. It’s almost Thanksgiving, and while most of the time we are focused on family and delicious foods, I think it’s important during this time to look back at the moments that have shaped us. What you’ll find, and it’s something that I myself have found, is that these key moments, good and bad, have shaped us into a stronger person than we once were. I titled this post the way I did because I think living a life full of thanks, allows us to have deep joy and love well.
If you’re new to my blog, as I have met a ton of people since I wrote a similar post a couple years back, welcome, I hope you’re doing well. I was reflecting on my past and some of the things I have experienced. No, my story isn’t filled with a crazy hardcore life, but it has been marked by some tough moments as well as empowering. One of the biggest moments was when my youth pastor in middle school, Marshall Johnson spoke to me, a very anxious and unconfident kid, that I was going to do great things. I struggled in high school trying to fit in and figure myself out, and I remember having a group of misfits from my church surround me and help me be uniquely me. In college I got a phone call that my dear friend from those misfits, Seth, had taken his life. I remember going to the funeral confused and heartbroken about my friend, someone who loved and encouraged me. A few months later my family found out my brother in law had been addicted to drugs, which was hidden from us all, and he would go to Teen Challenge for a full year to recover. I then chose to move in with my sister, which was a good yet challenging time, and after the year, I was so thankful for the healing I had been able to witness. In those moments it’s difficult to see how this story will end.
Most recently I dealt with a crisis of identity, you see, I had interned at a church where I was on a path to step into a pastor role, at least, that’s what I had planned. While I did get a job there, I was never respected or seen for the things I was doing to hold a ministry together during transition. This isn’t me trying to get pity, so don’t feel like I’m writing here to fish, simply expressing a moment in my life. It’s difficult to be so passionate, yet be overlooked for the cooler or more outspoken people. So, after the year of directing during the transition, I was let go; no longer wanted. In these moments it can be difficult to see your purpose in chaos.
Despite the challenges, I am thank full.
Marshall spokes life into me when I felt unsure. I had a group of misfits love me like Jesus loves his people. In the great loss of Seth, I saw a family show love and saw those of us impacted take stands on mental health awareness. Timothy, my brother in law, after a year, was completely healed and restored, no longer enslaved. My sister and I have a fantastic relationship, despite some of our challenges in being roommates, love ya, sis. In recent months, I was able to marry my best friend who encourages me daily despite my feelings of worthlessness after working in a toxic environment for a year. God has been with me in all things, highs and lows, and he calls me his child.
I am thank full.
Thankful for Marshall, for my misfits, for Seth, my family, and my dearest Danielle.
I know life isn’t always incredible, but you are incredible, because you have been designed by an incredible creator. God made you in his image, he tells us this in scripture, and that means you are beautiful and awesome.
You were made in the image of God, and because of that, you are beautiful and awesome. You are not your past, you are so worth loving no matter what was done to you, and you are never alone.
These are truths I speak over myself each day. We need to focus on the truth in a time of lies. It can be easy to struggle with how the story might end, so much so, that we distract ourselves from the beauty unfolding in front of us. I am so thankful for the people God has placed in my life, for the lessons I’ve learned, from the potential that he has placed me in. When we choose to be thank full, we allow ourselves to embrace the everyday joys in all things. When we focus on the joys, we begin to grow our capacity to love others, but more importantly, love ourselves too.
I laugh a lot, I like having fun and helping others enjoy life with me. I don’t do that because I am forcing it, I’ve simply chosen to live a life full of thanks when my mind wants me to focus on the negative.
I am choosing to be thank full, even when it doesn’t make sense.
This past week I got to see my new niece. Beth and Timothy gave birth to Phoebe Joy, and my dearest Danielle and I got a chance to fly up and spend time with her, and my curious and adventurous nephew, Gideon. See my family with Danielle reminded me that no matter what, the sun will rise. God has a plan for each new day, and no matter how long the night seems, the sun will rise again. I am choosing to step into the unknown alongside my dearest Danielle with a heart full of joy ready to love the people around us.
Every day is a new chance; choose to be thank full.
About the Author: Joshua Thomas is a writer by day and superhero by night. When he’s not writing and crimefighting, you can find him reading a good book, sipping warm tea, taking pictures, or dreaming. The young writer doesn’t fully know what he’s doing, but is enjoying the journey of it all. You can tweet memes at him on Twitter @joshua_thomas__ or follow his hipster photos and Jack Kerouac musings on Instagram @joshua_thomas__