I have a bad habit of looking past good things. Often times I live in the moment so much that I fail to appreciate the people in my life. God, friends, family, I interact with them all the time, but I often fail to realize how great it is to have them in my life. Thankfully, however, these past few weeks God has been showing me how much I have incidentally overlooked. Through things that have happened, and the memories He brought up, I have been realizing how unappreciative I can be.
These past two weeks, I have actually been thousands of miles away from home. My family went to Massachusetts, where my grandparents live, to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I got to see all my cousins, and meet the newest members of our family. We had a lot of family time, both in the house and on the lake that my grandparents live on. However, as much fun as we all had, the activities weren’t the thing that stuck out to me the most. You see, we drove up to Massachusetts, from our home in Texas. All in all, we spent over thirty hours driving, each way. My whole family drove up, and my whole family drove back, but my whole family didn’t stay. My dad had to work last week. He drove us all the way to Massachusetts, stayed for the party we had for my grandparents, and flew home a few days after we arrived. My dad worked all week while the rest of us enjoyed a wonderful vacation. Then he flew back to pick us up. He drove us home after the weekend was over. My dad sacrificed a lot of his time and energy to give my siblings, mom, and me an awesome vacation. We got to spend a lot of our time boating, fishing, and swimming. Those are three of my dad’s favorite activities. He missed out on all of them. He had work to do. So while he worked, we played. My dad sacrificed then, and he sacrifices for my whole family every day. I don’t normally recognize his sacrifices, but this time, because it was so blatant, it stuck out. The whole thing left me with one thing to say: “My dad is awesome!”
Second, after my family, is my friends and my mentor. A few months ago, a leader in my youth group started to mentor me. She’s been extremely busy, but she still has taken time out of her schedule to talk to me and counsel me. I’ve had a couple of things going on lately that she helped talk me through. She has been praying for me, and not only giving me advice, but asking me tough questions that make me think. This past month especially stood out to me. I won’t go into details, because it would soon sound like gossip, but a few things have happened recently where her help and guidance has helped me a lot. I am so thankful that God put her in my life.
Also, though I might not have to learn to appreciate them as much, my closest friends mean a lot to me too. D has known me since we were six, and we talk a couple of times a month. There’ve been times when I haven’t had any friends around (we’ve lived in different countries more than we’ve lived in the same area), and she has always been willing to talk and listen. I have another friend, Riley, who I’ve known for years as well, and I know I can count on her too. And of the friends I’ve made recently, they all mean so much to me. Ashlyn and Olivia are great examples. We met about seven or eight months ago, but we’ve become good friends very quickly. Olivia is great at planning fun activities, and Ashlyn and I email back and forth quite a lot. And of course, all the girls in my youth group have been great friends to me. From the girls who love to laugh, to the ones I know will give me good advice, and to the friends I talk to all the time, I love them all. My life just wouldn’t be the same without them.
Finally and most importantly, I’ve learned to appreciate God not only for who He is, but especially for what He has done for me. Most recently, I’ve been learning appreciation for what he has given. It seems fitting that after I write about my friends, I should write about when I didn’t have any. There have been a couple of times in my life when I didn’t really have any friends at all. In those times, God was there. He used my lack of friends to show me more of himself, and to teach me to love Him more. Both before and after we lived in Curacao, and also when we were there, God used my lack of friends to show me His character.
Another good example, though not about friends, is some things that happened when we decided to move back to the U.S. We had to leave everything behind. I was scared. But God shined through it all. Since we were moving abroad, we had to sell nearly everything. We didn’t think it would be possible to sell even half of our things in a month, but God sold 75% of the things we would have to leave behind in less than three days. All in all, I am incredibly thankful.
Finally, I’ve learned to appreciate God’s gifts to me. Which one in particular? The Bible. I’ve recently started to realize how I have over a thousand pages of “letters” from God to me in the Book I keep on my bed. I am so thankful for an email or text from any of my friends, and God has sent me sixty-six whole books through His Word. So I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve realized that it’s so awesome that he would send that to me (and us). If a text, which doesn’t normally contain over 20 words, gets me excited, how much more should the Bible?
So, all in all, I’ve been learning about appreciation. God has been showing me in different ways how much He has done, and how much others have done. All in all, however, it seems that everything I’m thankful for is a gift from Him. He gave me my dad, who serves my family so well. He gave me a mentor, and He gave me many friends. He has done so much for me and my family, and he has given me His Word. And of course, the most important thing he has given me is Himself. So I’ve been learning to thank Him, in my appreciation, for what He has given, and the things He has done.
*Many thanks to Ashlyn for the title idea! I definitely thought it was both good and funny 🙂