It’s a blustery day today. When I got up this morning, I knew Ramsey (our golden retriever) and I needed to walk, but I wanted to lie in bed and do nothing, especially when I saw the trees bending under the wind outside my window. Walking gets my blood pumping and helps me get in the groove of the day, but today I was wallowing in self-doubt and laziness and a walk in the crazy wind did not sound pleasant in the least. Thankfully for my health and willpower, I have already made a commitment to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week for the next month, and I told Eric he was free to ask me periodically if I was staying on track (meaning this is a commitment I am determined to keep). Had I not, I guarantee you I would have found an excuse to wallow in bed a bit longer.
So outside we went. Me bundled up and dreading the cold wind, and Ramsey in her birthday fur, so excited to get out of the house and sniff something new! Some days I wish I had her spunk and outlook on life: breakfast, fun, fun, food, fun, nap, fun, lunch, fun, leaf, chase, fun, fun, treat, chase, nap, fun, rabbit, chase, dinner, fun, fun, fun, fun, bedtime!
As we rounded the block, I started thanking God for various blessings. The more blessings I thanked Him for, the more blessings came to mind. Before long, my solemn mood began to change. Instead of thinking about all I needed to do and feeling the weight of self-doubt, I remembered that God is in control and that He could give me the strength and energy I need to accomplish those tasks that are hanging over my head. Spending that time thanking Him was like pouring refreshing water on my soul.
Sometimes I struggle with allowing doom and gloom thoughts to fill my mind. “You don’t have what it takes to complete that project.” “You’re going to give up on this dream.” “Other people are more equipped and talented than you are, so why even bother?” After a while of dwelling on such negatively, my insides start to feel tight and knotted. There’s a tense, clenched feeling. Such thoughts never blessed my life, but sometimes I still let them play over and over in my mind like a broken record. In fact, I’m not always conscious of the pessimistic thoughts I think!
Today, when I started thanking God for what He’s given me, those negative thoughts subsided and my mind was filled with thoughts like, “I can do what I need to do. God has always given me the tools and strength I need to accomplish each new challenge.” “He’s provided me with the health to walk, the air to breathe, a home to shield me from the elements, encouraging friends, a playful pup, and a cuddly husband” (I always wanted a husband that liked hugs). Sure, there are blessings others have that I want, but when I weigh what I’ve been given against what I have yet to receive, there is no contest. The blessings win!
God gave me the strength to get through graduate school and He’ll give me the strength to get through my next big endeavor (Isaiah 40:28-31). He was faithful to me even when I wasn’t faithful to Him and He will finish the work He began in me (Philippians 1:6). All it took for me to get my mind off of the lies I was telling myself was to start thanking God for all He has given. Philippians 4:5-7 tells us, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (ESV). We wouldn’t be told to thank God while we are making our requests known if it wasn’t an important part of our prayer life.
There is refreshing, refocusing, and reminding that happens when we verbalize our gratitude to God. Our souls are refreshed, our minds are refocused, and we are reminded of the truth. You’re not a failure. You are who God says you are. You may have failed in your life, but you are not a failure. You can still be used by God if you surrender to Him. You are not worthless. You may have had people tell you that you won’t amount to anything or that you may as well not even try to accomplish your goals, but you are not worthless because God says you are not worthless, and what He says is all that matters. When you lift up your voice and thank Him, He refreshes your soul, refocuses your mind, and reminds you of the truth.
I used to entertain thoughts like “Maybe I’ll never get married.” “What if God does not provide a husband for me?” “I’m not good enough to have a good man.” Maybe you have entertained similar thoughts. Or maybe you have been in a relationship for a long time and you are thinking, “He’ll never commit to me because I’m not enough for him” or “She won’t want to be my wife because I haven’t accomplished enough and don’t have much money.” Maybe you’re not dating anyone and you’re telling yourself all kinds of lies about why you are not in a relationship. I would encourage you to spend some time thanking God. Even if you feel bitter and tense inside like I did this morning, just thank Him. Start with one blessing and then thank Him for another, and another. Before you know it, your heart will be filled with gratitude and affection from your Heavenly Father and for your Heavenly Father.