Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I love this day. Without the commercialization of most other holidays, we can more easily focus on what’s most important. This year perhaps more than ever it’s important to intentionally choose to be thankful anyway, even in tough times.

Not that gratitude is the easiest or default emotion these days. The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, perhaps even forcing you and your family to alter what you had hoped to be doing today. Your income may have been impacted. You may feel deeply hurt, afraid, or angry about how society is moving in light of the recent volatile US election season. 

That’s all the more reason why we need a time to be thankful anyway.

So here are a few of the things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving Day. I hope you will choose to be grateful for some of the same things.

  1. The Ability to Choose and Act

Even if I don’t like anything going on around me, I still have the ability to choose how I respond. I can decide what news I listen to, what media I consume, what I give my attention to. I’m so grateful I learned that I can determine what thoughts to think, and tell my mind where to go instead of chasing after every feeling. (Philippians 4:8)

I’m grateful for the wide variety of mental/emotional/spiritual nourishment God makes available, and that I can choose what varieties of that nourishment to take into my being. Imagine what going through a pandemic might be without the internet! I get to choose how to invest my time and resources.

My actions and decisions make a difference. They don’t always result in what I might hope for, but I have agency; I’m not a victim unless I choose to be. And as sick as many aspects of my country are (the USA), I’m grateful to live in a country where my choices can affect much of my own future.

  1. People Who Care

As flawed as every human being is, I’m grateful to experience people who care, people who put their time and effort into doing something that matters. They may see aspects of life differently, but their heart is invested – and that’s beautiful.

I’m grateful I can choose to invest my time and energy in connecting most with the people that matter to me. The team members who are part of Dr Carol Ministries – they are truly the fuel for my fire! They make me better. The result of our working together is so much more than the sum of the individual parts. They also lift me up when I fall down, and I believe I sometimes do the same for them.

I’m grateful for the family God has blessed me with. Although I didn’t give birth to children, I get to be part of an awesome family of two loving stepsons, their beautiful wives, and four wonderful grandchildren. There’s no more precious legacy that my late husband Al left for me.

  1. Moments of Beauty

Sometimes it’s the little things that nourish one the most. The brilliant reds and yellows of the autumn leaves driving through Ohio a few weeks ago. The way the evening sun shines through the leaves of my beautiful huge back-yard oak tree. The warmth and light coming from the fireplace. The softness and scent from burning candles.

I remain filled up from the day I spent at the beach a few weeks ago; the smell of salty air, the sound of the relentless surf, the feel of warm sand and playful waves on my feet, the wind blowing my hair. Something about such a place washes out the debris accumulated in my soul.

Moments of beauty still exist in this crazy world. I want to be grateful for every one.

  1. People to Help

If there were no people to help, I wouldn’t have a reason for being here. Even in those times when I don’t know exactly what they need, I know Who does! I’m grateful for every message, email, website or social media comment, or phone call that lets me see a small window into someone else’s life, and how something I might say or do can lift them up.

I’m overwhelmingly grateful every time I hear of someone who has been positively impacted by what God has given me to do; the young woman in Africa who has found freedom from pornography, the woman in India whose sister died and is now finding healing for her grief, the husband in California who is learning how to connect with his wife in new ways, the wife in New Jersey who is seeing clearly what steps to take in dealing with her difficult marriage, the film maker in Michigan who now has some helpful resources to pass on to others.

It’s energizing to experience being a conduit for things God is doing in people’s lives. How special!

  1. Knowing Who is in Charge

In the middle of a political firestorm and a global pandemic, it’s overwhelmingly reassuring to know Who is in charge. Humans certainly don’t know how to handle all this mess. But He does! And to know Him – it’s everything. None of our current problems have raised God’s blood pressure. To know that God is not surprised, or anxious, or even hard-pressed to know what to do – I’m so grateful for that.

When going through tough times, it makes all the difference in the world to know how it will end. As a follower of Jesus I’m grateful to know the end of the story; Jesus wins!

I don’t have to stress about what the political landscape will look like come January. Or how long it will take for this pandemic to go away. Or what will happen in the economy. Oh sure, those things matter, and they impact me (and you). But I can leave those things in the hands of the only One big enough and wise enough to deal with it.

And for that, Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Turn: What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving season? How are you choosing to be thankful anyway? Leave a comment below.

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