In late 2019 I spent a lot of time alone, angry, and heartbroken. There was rarely a day over the course of several months that I felt excited to get up and go about life. I honestly felt like things were going to stay this way forever, and if this time a year ago you asked me about what I was thankful for I would have a really difficult time giving you an answer.
But 2019 came to a close and just in time for the New Year and a new semester, I sort of fell into a new group of friends. I was given a flyer about an event on campus that was the next night, and I didn't have any plans so I thought "Why not?" Though this may sound like some famous last words, this event would become the first step on my journey of breaking out of my aggrieved worldview and into practicing thankfulness.
This event plugged me into Fellowship Church and a small group, where, for the first time, I met people who were honest about how they were doing. The first time I met Cassidy Schmid she had been really going through a lot, and it quite honestly felt really good to hear that someone else was struggling, but that isn't what stuck with me the most about what Cassidy was saying. Cassidy shared that in all of the pain and loss that she had been experiencing, she had found it really difficult to find anything to be thankful for. I related to this, like, a lot. How could I be thankful when so much was going badly? But then she said something else. She said that she had come up with a way to practice thankfulness even when it felt impossible to be thankful.
It sounds simple: be thankful for the little things. But no, really be thankful for the little things. What Cassidy said that shook my world that night was simply that she said to God: "Hey God, thank you that I have toes." And that sounds silly, but Cassidy was really thankful that God had given her toes. If she didn't have toes she said, then she wouldn't be able to walk and do the things that she enjoys doing, so she was truly thankful for them. Cassidy openly shared about how she had found that being thankful for everyday, mundane things in her life had really helped her when all seemed bleak and dark. And so I started trying it.
Thank you God, for the Kuerig that makes hot water so I can drink the tea that I love.
Thank you God, that I got 8 hours of sleep last night.
Thank you God, for the hot water in my shower.
Thank you for the roads I take to drive to school.
Thank you for the public park where I get to meet up with my friend.
For the Totino's pizza in my freezer I'm looking forward to.
For the phone call with my mom.
For my eyes.
For my favorite pair of tennis shoes.
And in intentionally giving thanks for the things I had previously taken for granted, I found life to be a little more doable. I found that I could get up in the morning without dread, I could find a purpose in what I was doing hour to hour, even if it wasn't the best day ever.
This year we have faced a global pandemic, have turned our focus to racial injustice, and watched tensions rise through the election season. Through all of these things and reflecting on the year, it can be hard to find things we feel especially thankful for. But as we come up on Thanksgiving, I would just encourage you to try and be thankful for the everyday and mundane things in your life. Using this method of giving thanks turned my life upside down, and I couldn't be more grateful for that.
God, thank you for putting Fellowship Church and Cassidy Schmid in my life at just the right time.