Thought for the Day:
“I thought 2020 would be the year I get everything I want. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have.”
Question for the Day:
Are you still grateful in 2020?
Well, Thanksgiving Day 2020 is upon us, and this year feels different for a lot of us. With record unemployment rates and many people struggling financially, folks are scaling back, limiting dinners to those in their immediate households, and trying to figure out how to carve a turkey via Zoom. But beyond that, “Thanksgiving 2020” almost sounds like an oxymoron considering all of the shenanigans this year has thrown our way. 2020 brought us COVID-19, mask mandates, social distancing, school closures, a sideshow of a presidential campaign season, the untimely deaths of many of our icons, a Survivor style hunt for paper products, and an unprecedented mental health crisis. Clearly, 2020 gave zero **** because it ran through all of our lives like an unmasked Trump at a campaign rally. Yet, as one of the most trying years of many of our lives approaches its end, it’s important to acknowledge that God is good and there is STILL plenty to be thankful for.
I don’t know about anyone else, but the morning after election night, I was about to be like Jake from State Farm and total 2020 completely out. When it looked like Trump was ahead, my faith in humanity began to melt as rapidly as Rudy Giuliani’s hair dye. BUT in the 11th hour, the surprise plot twist of Biden overtaking Trump in the polls and ultimately winning the presidential election, was the glimmer of hope many of us were starving for. Knowing that decency and democracy still matter to more people than not, gave me just enough gas to at least make it to the next station. It was also a very real reminder that God has the final say and he is always able to turn situations around. Even when things appear hopeless and it feels like you’re losing, God can come through like Michael Jordan in the fourth quarter and deliver a game winning slam dunk all up in the enemy’s face. When the devil starts talking trash, God will step in and shut him down like Kamala during the vice presidential debate by reiterating that “He’s speaking!” Though this year has delivered many blows, here are some things to take into account if 2020 still has you salty and you’re in need of a gratitude adjustment.
You’re Still Alive! As of today, the coronavirus pandemic alone has claimed over 260,000 lives. This threat along with countless others such as cancer and heart disease should give us all new appreciation for being “alive and well.” Life is not promised, period! Even if you run everyday, follow a plant-based diet, take your vitamins, and vote Democrat, your health is not guaranteed! For crying out loud, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging and Breonna Taylor was asleep in her bed when their lives ended tragically and unnecessarily. If you could literally be doing everything correctly and still die at a moment’s notice, then every single breath is something to be grateful for. Each day that you wake up with the full use of your body and mind and a reasonable portion of your health is a good day, ESPECIALLY in 2020. In a strangely ironic way, we might even have this horrible pandemic to thank for keeping that reality fresh on our minds.
You’re Still Sane! Frankly, bearing witness to the president’s blooper reel over the last four years should have motivated all of us to protect our mental health. Yet, even still, 2020 seemed to do everything in its power to work against efforts to protect our peace. Being surrounded each day by so much death, division and hate was enough to push even the most stable people close to the edge. As a therapist, I’ve never been busier which means I am working double time to support others while fighting to keep my own wayward thoughts in check. I’m keenly aware of just how real the mental health crisis everyone is whispering about actually is, so don’t you dare go taking your continued sanity for granted. Many people have had nervous breakdowns or opted to mask their pain with alcohol, sex or hard drugs. Some have become so angry and bitter that their relationships have suffered or ended. Countless more have become so lonely and discouraged that suicide seemed to be the only viable means of escape. I say all of that to say, that if you woke up today clothed in your right mind, able to cope with your reality, and even minimally optimistic or hopeful about your future, you have been blessed beyond measure and have much reason to rejoice.
Your Needs are Met! I do know that many people are struggling today and cannot say that all of their needs are met. They’ve lost their jobs, businesses, homes, or health insurance and might even be unsure of where their next meal is coming from. For these people, every day with a place to lay their head is a blessing and every bite of food is something to thank God for. Yet, those of us who have never known that level of poverty might find ourselves trashing 2020 for all of its tragic losses even though it has probably cost us very little. Most of us who whine on Facebook are likely still working, have plenty of food in the pantry, have a roof over our heads at night, a bed to sleep in, clothes on our backs, hot (and clean) water, electricity, and probably most of the luxuries we can’t imagine living without. Though we may not like what’s going on around us and can even legitimately be angry or disappointed on someone else’s behalf, I know most of my college-educated, professional friends are still eating pretty good. Don’t get so caught up by the struggle that you forget to acknowledge the ways in which you’re actually not struggling at all.
Someone Loves You! I know some folks have more people in their lives than others. Some are married or in relationships and others are single. Some are surrounded by extended family while others are going it alone in new cities. However, I have met very few people who legitimately don’t have a single person in their lives who cares. Yes, it feels good to have a crew or a large supportive family behind you, but the reality is, life doesn’t look the same for everybody. Instead of comparing the amount of people you have in your life to others, try focusing on the quality of your relationships. Real, authentic love is a lot rarer than people think especially in an age when we consider anyone who sends us a follow request on Instagram a “friend.” Like Me On Fakebook Don’t get discouraged if you might not have a lot of people in your life who “say” they love you. It’s much more “2020 appropriate” to pay closer attention to the few who actually do. Even one demonstration of authentic love in your life whether it’s from a parent, child, mate, family member or friend is one more than a lot of people. If life is a party, then don’t miss the opportunity to dance with those who’ve already arrived because you’re too busy watching the door.
It is my belief that gratitude should never be conditional. Though our human nature tends to seek out the extraordinary, it’s often the ordinary things that sustain us from day to day. Even as the holidays approach, many are discontent over the need to avoid family gatherings this year and restrict their plans. But check this out, life doesn’t owe us anything, yet it still carries us forward in the face of endless threats. Other people don’t owe us anything, yet there are still people who love us unconditionally. And God doesn’t owe us anything, yet He still blesses us boundlessly. Let’s try to stop complaining about how horrible this year has treated us and go higher. I guess this Thanksgiving may not be as meaningful if it’s just about hanging with family, playing dominoes and enjoying your auntie’s mac and cheese. However, if Thanksgiving for you is about thanking God for all that you have and celebrating Him for all that He’s brought you through, Thanksgiving 2020 might just be the best one yet.
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”