This Thanksgiving I wanted to take a moment and recognize some of the not so obvious blessings in my life. It’s easy to see the superficial blessings on the surface, but it takes a little more thought to see how the relationships in our lives are changing us and fulfilling us more than the superficial stuff can ever do.
I am thankful for a family that loves and cares for each other. Many of us are lucky to have families, but I think we all have much bigger hopes for our families that merely being present. I am blessed with family members that truly care about each other. I have extended family members that will drop what they’re doing and help you out at a moment’s notice. They’ll watch our kids so that we can go on vacation, and give us an opportunity to relax and recharge.
I have an amazing wife that gives of herself relentlessly and without a selfish expectation that will come due later. She brings out the best in me. My children are gifts from God. They challenge me to be the best dad that I can. They give me this amazing opportunity to think about what is important, and then prioritize our life in a way that reflects those values. I’m not a perfect husband or dad, but I know I’m a better man than I was 15 years ago because of them.
I am thankful for my career as an educator. More than any other area of my life, my students show me how I can impact the lives of others simply by the way I choose to talk to them and treat them. My students are individuals that come to class each day with different families, different experiences, and different expectations. We come together in a single room, and practice what it means to talk to each other, to understand each other, and to do it in a way builds each other up.
They’ve shown me that how you speak to someone is as important as what you say. People don’t listen to what you have to say unless they think you’re worth listening to. That means the more you value the person across the table from you, the more your actions will reflect your care for them. More care, more sincerity. The more you tip the scale towards caring for someone else and living in a way that reflects that reality, the more you can truly have a positive impact on the lives of others. It doesn’t matter how smart you think you are, how funny you think you are, or how great of a writer or speaker you think you are. If your outlook is one that is self-consumed and inwardly focused, then no talent in the world can overcome the fact that people won’t want to listen to you.
My students challenge me to get over myself, and think about what I can do to serve them.
I am thankful for my faith, and the perspective on life that it has given me. In the last year, I’ve grown to see more of who God is, and who he wants me to become. I’m convinced that if you want to see God daily, in a truly tangible way, that there is no better way than to embrace the Holy Spirit. The more alive I let the spirit of God become in my life, the more I see my will and desires reflect his and what he wants for my life. Day-to-day interactions that were an inconvenience have become a blessing.
I was in Target the other day in the video game section (some things never change), when an elderly gentleman and his granddaughter walked up. They came over, she rattled off something about what she wanted for Christmas, and off she went, leaving behind a very confused looking grandpa. For the next half hour he and I talked about the newest Nintendo system, and how it was different from the portable system. He talked to me about buying his grandson a PlayStation years ago, but that so much had changed since then. We talked about the games that were available, how the controllers connect, and how he needed to talk to her about the games she wanted to play (it always comes down to the games).
We never talked about Jesus, but it was as spiritual a conversation as I’ve had in a long time. I don’t even know if he appreciated my willingness to discuss video games, or if he just went about his day and took me for granted, but it doesn’t really matter. I left that conversation more at peace than I went into it, and more confident about how I can positively affect the lives of others.
What Are Your Hidden Blessings?
I hope you get a chance this week to think beyond the obvious blessings, and get down to the ones that give your life meaning. Past the material possessions, and beyond the “I’m glad you’re in my life” refrains. We are all blessed deeply, and sometimes we have to look at a little closer to see it.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.