The Shift to Gratefulness

She sat in the front row, a small-framed girl, no more than eleven or twelve. Already in middle school, many girls her age were concerned with make-up and hair. But not this one.

A tear leaked down my cheek as I watched her hug a giant stuffed animal throughout the entire worship service. She rocked to the music and squeezed her fluffy friend tighter and tighter.

Countless questions flooded my mind. What made her so childlike? What was her life like that her greatest comfort was a giant stuffed animal that she carried around in public?

Then there was the woman I saw at the rheumatologist’s office. Her hair was perfect, as were her clothes. She had an elegance about her as she walked.

But after closer examination, I realized her slow gait was only a mask for her intense pain. Every step resulted in a tiny wince, and even though she hid it well, I knew she disguised a disease that affected her entire body.

The elderly woman at the grocery store also caught my attention on Thanksgiving week. We talked and laughed with each other. I asked whether she would be with family on Thanksgiving, and she said no.

My heart ached for her. Alone on a holiday that is meant for family. A time when others are gathered around tables with the ones they love, and she anticipated being alone.

That Saturday, I gathered around my table with my dad’s side of the family. My grandmother, who has been in the nursing home recovering from an injury, was allowed to spend the day with us.

Being together was nice, and we kept the day lighthearted, even though we all missed my papa. My heart hurts as I think about how different every holiday will be without him and how much my grandma, dad, uncles, and aunts long for his presence.

When tough times are upon us, it’s easy to mask our pain and keep on moving. The little girl, who hugged her stuffed animal to ease her emotional hurts. The woman whose body stung with every step but kept an eloquence about her despite the pain. The older lady sitting alone at Thanksgiving, longing to be with her family even though she said it was okay. My family, laughing and having a good time while our hearts ached for the man we loved.

The Shift

I’m grateful for the holiday of Thanksgiving. A time where people gather with family and friends to recognize all the good things we have in life. It’s a time of recentering and refocus. A day where we can change our outlook, if only for a day, and count the many blessings of life.

If we take the opportunity to look at our lives and the lives of others through the eyes of gratefulness, everything will change.

The young girl’s homelife wouldn’t suddenly improve, but she could become thankful for the van ministry and the people in church who love her and teach her about Jesus.

The woman in the rheumatologist’s office could become grateful for the mobility she has left and the doctors who are using their knowledge and skills to keep her moving.

The elderly lady, though alone, could use the day to count her blessings and reach out to others who might be in the same boat as she is.

And my family, though we missed my papa terribly, could have spent time recounting our favorite memories of my grandfather and letting our hearts heal through our laughter and tears.

Pain does not have to define us. Our hurts and brokenness aren’t the lenses we have to see the world through.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

And that scripture takes my thoughts a step further. If we keep our eyes fixed on the things of this world, we will never be able to see the big picture. We weren’t made to live here on earth; we were made to live with our Father in heaven for eternity.

During this season of gratefulness, let us not forget to fix our eyes on our Maker—the one who loved us enough to send His only Son to die for us.

And if our eyes are fixed on Him, our hearts become grateful, and our troubles seem much smaller in the light of His perfect love.

 

© Christy Bass Adams, November 2021

All graphics from Canva

All scriptures from New Living Translation

Christy Bass Adams

Christy Bass Adams, is the Outreach and Connections Coordinator at Fellowship Baptist Church in Madison, Florida. She is also a writer and will have her first devotional book published in spring of 2022. Her most important role, however, is with her family as a wife of 17 years and mother to two busy boys. She has worked in education for over 18 years at both the elementary and collegiate levels. Her favorites pastimes are fishing and sitting around a fire. For more from Christy, visit her blog at christybassadams.com.

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