What a year! I could honestly end this whole post right now with just that phrase and I’m sure you’d understand, but we made it through the year! Praise God! 2020 was definitely a year for the books. It looked and felt different for everyone but in the midst of chaos, challenges, racial injustices and a pandemic, you need to ask yourself - what has God done in your life the past year? What are you grateful for?
It’s easy with social media, the news and being surrounded by certain people to get yourself caught in a negative mindset where you focus on all that’s not good in your life, but practicing gratitude has such positive effects on our mental and physical health.
So, to end off this year I’m going to list 5 things I’m grateful for out of 2020.
1. Waking Up
Sounds a bit cliche, but this year was filled with so much loss that each day I wake up, my heart truly is grateful. My dad passing at the beginning of this year was the most painful, unexpected, heartbreaking thing that I’ve ever experienced. I replay that moment in my head regularly, but I’m quickly filled with gratitude that my dad passed the way he wanted to, in his house, in his bed and peacefully in his sleep. I could be angry at God for taking him away from us or I can be grateful for the 28 years and beautiful memories I did have with him. Him passing a few weeks before COVID-19 took over, allowed us to have the most beautiful homegoing celebration for him with 400+ people in attendance. My heart goes out to families throughout this year that were unable to be with their loved ones in their last days or unable to give them the proper burial. I pray for comfort and peace over you and your family.
We can take something like waking up in the morning for granted. We live as if we have all the time in the world, but we’re really not promised tomorrow. My dad went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up the next day. So, when we do get to see another day, we should always give thanks. Even if there are days you don’t feel like you ever want to wake up. You do - and it’s for a purpose. Keep going!
In gardening, the purpose of pruning is to remove dead and unwanted branches and stubs to allow room for new growth. In this time of not being able to escape and travel and do half of the things that used to occupy my days, God started to prune my life. He started removing friendships that were dead or dying - people in my life who weren’t really for me and were hindering my growth. He helped me realize some bad habits and characteristic traits. And because of being forced to be alone, I had to feel every single emotion that came across my body - which was a lot. It’s at times like these, where we’re alone with our thoughts and feelings that we can turn to different substances to not feel anything or to distract us, which can be tempting but sometimes dangerous but God ended up revealing a lot of the roots of my insecurities, fears and vices. Which was honestly painful but it’s a wound that needed to be opened so it could be healed, and I’m grateful.
3. A Job
In 2019 my life consisted of 2 things. Spain and cruise ships. In Spain, I was working for myself finding families who I could teach English to or looking after their children. It wasn’t secure but it was something. I ended up going for an interview in May to work at a school that was starting in September. I got the job, but God ended up telling me to leave Spain in August 2019 - and I’m beyond grateful I listened. The cases and lockdown due to COVID in Spain were unreal. The cruise ships shut down in March and still aren’t operating to this day. I went home and unknowingly spent the last months with my dad but also obtained a job that allowed me to work from home during the whole pandemic.
4. Beauty of Nature
When I first started writing in a gratitude journal I found it difficult to do it daily as I was thinking of the first things that came to mind which were usually the same every day - family, health, a home, food, which are all amazing things to be grateful for, but elaborating on what you’re grateful for can really open your mind and can allow you to explore your feelings. With everything shut down most of this year, I think a lot of people found a deeper appreciation for nature. I’m grateful for the way the sun sets and rises and is always so beautiful, for the way the rain sounds when I’m lying in bed, for the cars that stop to allow ducks to cross the street, for the different types of clouds, for clear skies where you can see the moon and stars, for autumn and the beauty of the leaves changing colours, for the silence in the middle of the forest. I could honestly go on and on but next time you go for a walk or a hike, take a look around and think of a few things you’re grateful for.
5. The chance to slow down
My life was busy, as I’m sure yours was too. But when the lockdown started and I had nowhere to go but to be home, I was able to be more thoughtful and aware of where I was spending my time and energy previously and how I do so going forward. I got to finish a few books that were always on my list to read. I got to create beautiful memories and share laughs with my mom, sister and nephews, I got to grow deeper in God and learn more about relationships through an online zoom meet with ladies from church twice a week, for 3 months. I got to write more, create more and reflect more - and for all of that, I am grateful.
There is honestly a lot more I could write. It’s easy to feel grateful when life is good, but when it’s difficult and challenging, gratitude is worth the effort. I don’t want to ever dismiss people’s experiences and feelings throughout this whole year, I just want to encourage you, with the year coming to an end - to just think and elaborate on a few good things that happened in 2020.