Remembering in Gratitude

People in the states call today Black Friday. It’s considered the first official Christmas shopping day of the year. They call it Black Friday because it’s supposedly the one day in the year retailers are able to “get back in the black” from this one day of shopping. I call it Black Friday because of the chaos, greed, and the pure ugliness what people are willing to do to get a better deal. And you know what my favorite part about Black Friday is? It follows Thanksgiving—a day where we lift up our gratitude for all the things up until that day, and we find ourselves immediately discontent with said things and want to find more stuff to satisfy us right after celebrating Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m the last person to past judgement on anyone who partakes in Black Friday. You may not find me in anywhere near any retail outlet today, but I do find myself checking out sales on the Internet through this entire weekend. My inbox this morning was filled with sales and deals from Amazon, Zappos, Newegg, eBay… the list goes on forever. I would like to say that I am impervious to their marketing, but deep down in my heart I do think, “If I only had this brand new <insert-awesome-new-thing>, it would make my life better.” With that very thought passing through my mind, I am no better than anyone else.

It’s not just in the retail space where I find myself discontent. I heard through the posts of Facebook a friend of mine finally proposed to his long-time girlfriend. They shared so much history together, it was inevitable that they were going to be married. I was excited for them—I congratulated them. But when I looked through the photos of their engagement celebration, the thought crept in wondering when will I get to have that experience? My friend just got promoted in his company, his career is taking off. From outside looking in, it seems like he’s at the top of his game. “When will I be there?” I thought.

It’s like I threw away every thing that was good before those moments. Why is it I always want more and can never be content what I have now? Why do I never remember where I was—selfishly being in the darkness pushing my LORD away?

I found myself wanting to train my mind—my heart—for Thanksgiving. I can’t think of being thankful for the sake of being thankful. There isn’t much weight behind that thought. But I wanted to remember where I was and how my sovereign and loving Father took me out from the mire and lifted me and placed me on His shoulders. I wanted to remember while in this earthly body, I am always going to be a work in progress. The life that I live and the predicaments I found myself is part of a larger story being written in the story of this world. How I respond with free will choice is a decision whether or not I love and trust my Maker. And when I find myself where I think I’m in darkness alone, will I remember the time when He found me and rescued me time and time again? I must remember all those things to be truly grateful and content.

Realizing that maybe it’s just another step I’m taking to grow in the Spirit.

Count thy blessings

It’s been a financially tough year for me (even then, it really wasn’t).  I didn’t want to generically say it was a rough year because it really wasn’t that bad.  I still had my health.  That counts for something compared to others who have been suffering.  I didn’t completely lose my job this year.  It was more like I was “in-between-projects”.  I only work for my company if they have any projects.  This year it was a complete dry spell for work.  I’m pretty positive I worked a grand total of 4 months so far this year. So yeah, it was rough.

With all this newly free time I acquired, I decided to get right (or at least strive towards that goal) with God as well as visit a few friends that I lost along the way.  I can’t quite figure out the math how I managed to avoid applying for unemployment but still always tithed whatever God provisioned, didn’t need to struggle in order to put food on the table and a roof over my head, as well as take four trips back home to see my friends and family.  I looked at my accounts this last month and realized that I’m not going to make it.  At that point it felt like God came out of nowhere to give company work to finish out the year (albeit I had to take a significant pay cut, but getting something is always better than nothing).

I really don’t get it.  I just don’t.

I know I was never in a unrecoverable position compared to the rest of the world.  But it was relatively worrisome for me.  God is with me every step of the way and I don’t want to ever forget that He was and always will be.  I have a lot to thank for this Thanksgiving.