Attitude of Gratitude
2020 was supposed to hold so many amazing opportunities and adventures. 2020 was supposed to be one of the best years yet. Now as I sit here writing this, I am left with so many disappointments. Just like most of you I presume. And it is okay to feel those disappointments and be upset, frustrated, and even angry about them. So much has been lost this year and it is only human to feel all the feelings that go along with that. I know I've had my moments of screaming, crying, and feeling so hopeless. But once we feel those things, we have a choice to pick ourselves up and change our attitude, or continue sitting in the pit that is only going to get deeper the longer we sit in it. I don't know about you, but I would really appreciate a new outlook on this whole situation.
To give you an idea of some of the disappointments myself and my family have been facing these last 2 months, my sister's wedding... canceled, a study trip to Europe... canceled, summer internship... canceled. Not to mention loss of work and income for both my parents and completing my junior year of college online and away from friends. Now, I do not tell you these things for sympathy or pity. I tell you these things so you know that the disappointments my family is facing are real and I don't try to bring you encouragement from a high horse who has lost nothing. With that said, I am fully aware that people have lost loved ones due to this virus and many have suffered worse consequences than I. But we can all agree that COVID-19 has taken so much from each of us. We've all been impacted.
Throughout this season of suffering and hardships, I have not been the most receptive to God. He has seemed far from the situation and my heart has not been invested in seeking Him to help me through. However, I am thankful that recently He has gotten a hold of my heart and brought be back to His truth. I have been reminded that God is still close and He has his arms graciously open for me to enter. You too. We have 24 hour access to His presence; He is always available to us! His love is never-ending and there is nothing He wouldn't do for us. I forget that too often, and I have especially forgotten that during this pandemic. But no more! From here on out, I am choosing to shift my attitude. I am tired of being bitter, angry, and distant from God. "How?" You might ask?By starting to thank God for the little things each day, rather than wallow in the big disappointments.
God thank you for FaceTime and Zoom that connects me with friends and family during a time that can seem so lonely.
God thank you for the days filled with sunshine. When I feel the warmth on my skin, I am reminded that You created the heavens and the earth for our enjoyment.
God thank you for Your Living Word. You have given us access to Your truth in such a unique way. Each time I open up my Bible, You meet me there and reveal more of Your wonderful and mysterious character to me.
God thank you for providing what my family needs each day as we need it. You have not forgotten about us. We don't deserve Your kindness.
God continues to give us little gifts even in the darkest seasons. As believers, we have the ability to see light in the darkness because our hope is in Jesus. Let me paint a picture for you. You are a child riding your bike down the street, enjoying life, when all of the sudden you biff it and end up on the ground crying with some scrapes. Your dad, Jesus, comes running to the rescue and engulfs you in his arms. He can't make everything better because we live in a world full of suffering and heartbreak (per our own fault of choosing sin), but he offers you a lollipop, he finds you the coolest bandaid, and makes you your favorite meal for dinner. Jesus, much like our earthly fathers, hates to see His children hurting. He doesn't enjoy watching us suffer, but it is part of our life here on earth. As disciples, we are called to suffer, just as Jesus suffered (1 Peter 2:21). But through our sufferings, Jesus will give us gifts (like the fun bandaid or yummy meal) that remind us of His goodness and offer us moments of peace and joy. Look for the gifts God is presenting to you each day and take time to thank Him for them.
One more thing that I hope brings you encouragement; none of this was a surprise to God. At the beginning of this year I prayed that God would reveal a word for me to hold onto and practice this year. The word I heard spoken over me was "surrender". Are you kidding me, God?!? How crazy is it that my word this year is surrender! Everything I've planned on for 2020 is gone. I have had to completely surrender my plans to God. I could be mad about it, and believe me I've definitely gone through moments of confusion and major frustration, but instead I am focusing on the fact that God knew COVID-19 would disrupt our lives this year and placed surrender on my heart for the year. God has asked me to surrender to His better plan. It's scary and I am so unsure of what that looks like, but I am trusting God through the unknown. I encourage you to do the same, friend. Start by thanking Him for the small things and watch how it shifts your attitude toward life and your circumstances.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." - James 1:17 (NIV)