My pastor said something today that really struck me.  As he was speaking to a series we are doing called “project gratitude” he said, “gratitude is a choice, it is not a feeling.”  He went on to say, “If I wait until I feel grateful, I’m going to miss a ton of opportunities along the way.  So many times, our feelings are based on things that just have ‘me’ at the center of the universe.” He went on to say… “really expressing gratitude means searching out opportunities to be grateful and if we search, we are going to find some.”

Well, like much of what Rusty speaks to, this got me.  It really is a choice, as many things are, right?  So funny, sometimes the simplest of truths are the most profound.  Isn’t it true if we search for goodness and gratitude, we will absolutely find it.  It is not always easy, but it is always possible.  Yes, 2020 is a year many want to see end and end fast with hope for 2021.  But as I think through that, I think as a person, and who I am, and how I see things, treat people and behave, and internalize life….2020, 2021 or any other year….it is still me that needs to make a choice about how I proceed.

There has been real sadness and tragedy this year, no question. It has been magnified enormously and has hit close to home or at home for many, yet there are those who even in the midst of what would overwhelm most, remain faithful, grateful and in a state of peace.  Again, that does not dismiss the real-life impact of what is happening, but I always wonder, and I ask people all the time, what is it that they have that I wish I had and could bottle?  I have a beautiful friend (I won’t name) who realized some unimaginable tragedy in her life a few years ago, losing two members of her family within a very short period of time.  Her sadness was real, her grief unmistakable, but her faith never wavered and her gratitude for life and what she had never faltered. I still marvel at and am inspired by her when I think of that time and her approach to life and I ask myself what that was and how she and others who experience such “life” do it?  Today, I heard the answer…it is a choice.

It would be understandable to focus on all the reasons to be upset or angry for sure, there are lots to consider.  Events and celebrations got canceled, jobs lost, schools uncertain, stress of working at home,  families, and illness and so many other things.  But what if….what if, each day we find that moment, even that one brief moment to be grateful.  Could be for the most simplest of things….an unexpected discount, a good parking space, someone let you in the lane you needed on I-395, that five dollar bill you found in your jeans, a comfy bed, an extra something in your take out order or something more substantial – a call from that person you didn’t know how to reach out to, a card or letter or lovely message from someone you touched and didn’t realize its impact, a positive diagnosis, or a negative COVID test.  Each of those moments are real and meaningful.  If we can take that moment and choose to see it as a moment  to realize gratitude, a small gift is received; and over time, a gift I believe we will unknowingly share.

As we take this moment at Thanksgiving, during a time we are fatigued and in my case sometimes cranky or just done with it….may we look around ourselves, be it in our home, on Zoom or other means of connection, and choose gratitude.  Look closely to those in your life and choose not to take any of these moments or people for granted and let them know they are on your gratitude list.  For me, I am grateful for so much and most specifically, for a small group of beautiful humans without whom I would be in a very different place (that is for another time).

I wish you many moments of searching for and finding reasons to be grateful this day.  I also wish you peace in knowing that you may not always know the impact your presence has, but there is someone, somewhere choosing gratitude for you.  You are important, you are worthy, you are able, and you are a gift.  I am grateful for you, your time, and your presence here.

Let me leave you with this as well.  My pastor also made this note today… “God has designed us to thrive when we choose to adopt an attitude of gratefulness.”  May each day provide another opportunity for us all to thrive.

I wish you today, as in all days, a good day.