Have you ever taken the time to be thankful to be alive?
And I don’t just mean a passing thought either.
I mean take the time to really be thankful.
Have you ever stopped to just praise God for the life He’s given you?
Have you stopped to thank and praise Him regardless of the season?
That can be such a difficult thing to do. It is often only with a conscious effort that we give praise during times of trial. It is more natural to draw into ourself and become focused on the trial and less giving it up to our Sovereign God.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. My 22nd birthday is Tuesday. And It is now springtime. And this time of year always humbly brings me to reflect on how blessed and thankful I am to be alive.
However, It can also become possible to neglect offering praise during the good times. Sometimes, when we are having a mountaintop experience, we become enamored by the experience so much that we forget to be enamored by the love and faithfulness of our God.
“I am overwhelmed”
“I cannot measure up”
“I can’t overcome my past”
“I’m not good enough”
These thoughts among many swirled through my head.
“I can’t shake this. I’m weak”
I struggled to keep my head above the water and seemed like I could hardly get a gasp in before bobbing under the waves again. I was trying to keep myself busy in order to run from my life. There were things that had happened to me years before that I couldn’t change – they were apart of me. And I didn’t want that to be the case. So I ran. I ran fast, and I ran hard. Except instead of running into the arms of my Father, I ran alone and into the unknown.
No one really knew.
I was months from graduation.
Days from my 18th birthday.
My grades were good.
I was involved in more extracurriculars than your average 17 year old.
I was a social butterfly.
I went to church.
I was active in my community.
But I was unbelievably lost.
Confused. Ashamed. And scared.
I didn’t want to ask for help because of how well put together my life seemed on the outside. I didn’t want to ask for help because I was a Christian and shouldn’t feel this way. I thought something had to be wrong with me. It was my fault. And so I didn’t ask.
I kept trying to keep from going under. But I felt like I was failing. Despite all of the many blessings I had been given, I focused on my struggles and my anxiety. I was becoming more and more overwhelmed as the days passed. I wanted to give up. I just wanted it all to go away. And so that’s what I was going to do.
I had every intention to.
Until God brought all of my intention to a screeching halt with a phone call, and a knock on my front door. My plan had been found out and intercepted.
What followed that night is a story within itself. One that I’m no longer ashamed of. But that is irrelevant for now.
That night was four years ago to this day.
March 20th, 2011.
Four days before my 18th birthday. And the first day of spring.
Now that I am past it, I cannot begin to explain the perfect timing of all of this in my life.
How incredible that the day that my whole life was turned upside down and I began a new journey was the first day of spring! Spring: a season for growth, for new beginnings. And the season of spring beginning was a reflection of the season of growth and new beginnings that I was entering. My life is not always easy or pretty, but it is beautiful, delightfully challenging and it is blessed. I have since learned that it is okay to feel and be weak – that God meets me in my weakness and His strength carries me and it gives glory to Him! And that there is no shame in asking for help or admitting to not being okay. God sees me and loves me as I am, mountain high or valley low. He meets me where I am and He cherishes me. And that is something to be thankful for.
While it was not a quick fix, and while there have been valley times amidst my mountaintop experiences, I am alive. I am filled with joy each time I sit back and meditate on the fact that I am alive. And not only am I alive, but God has used that experience among others to allow me to encourage and minister to countless others. I have learned more about who He is and who I am in Him more than I could have ever hoped for or imagined. I have been abundantly blessed by He who is immeasurably more. More than my struggles, trials, anxieties, and past. And through it all, I have learned to cling to my Heavenly Father at all times, and give praise to Him in all things.
Regardless of being on a mountaintop or in a valley, or anywhere in between, it is important to offer thanks and praise to our God – just for being alive.
Even during the worst week, each breath is another opportunity to turn things around.
And even during the best week, we should not forget where we’ve come from.
Seek daily to choose joy for the amazing blessing to be alive.
And simply said: in all things, at all times – praise God.