“College brat” a title I cannot deny that was fitting for me back in my teen years. My life then revolved around a materialistic culture. I didn’t see beauty or worth in relationships and so it didn’t matter how much love my family showered me with, there was never a sense of gratitude for receiving any of it. If that were not enough, I indulged in a toxic relationship that did more harm than good. I confused love for something impure and unholy. What should have been three years of ‘getting to know’ another turned out to be a highlight reel of my most intoxicated self. It was only a matter of time till I hit rock-bottom, faced with the consequences of my actions There I realized how much damage I had caused to myself and my family. My body was tainted and damaged. I was lost and alone. I tried multiple worldly prescriptions to return to my old self, but without success. Even those who were concerned for me at one time, had now given up hope. My friends drifted and my family lost all their respect for me. I was beyond resolve. Or so I thought.
Restored to beauty
But I wasn’t, because of the One who pursued me relentlessly. Today I’m alive to tell the story of how the goodness and mercy of Christ helped me overcome the most challenging period of my life by far.
I still recall the date – September 8th, 2020. Desperate for a miracle, I picked up the Bible as I heard about the restoration it brought for so many. Not knowing where to begin, I opened it and stumbled on this verse “trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). I didn’t know what it was, but these precious words gave me an indescribable power to submit my whole self to God. In a single moment, I gave Him my time, my body, my heart, and my mind. I pleaded for grace and I pleaded for healing from trauma. I gave him my desire to be whole again. In the months that followed, I discovered not just transformation, but also unconditional forgiveness.
I discovered a God who did not condemn, who wasn’t there to remind me of the past but there to make me beautiful all over again.
I discovered a God who never left my side. Today, I am the healthiest I have ever been in years. I have a job that I love in a wonderful company. I have new, authentic friends, I have gained the respect of my family members and I have a new best friend – my Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Attitude of gratitude
When I was in preschool, our teachers would constantly remind us to use the three Golden words: Please, Sorry and Thank-You. At the time, these “golden words” seemed rhetoric, not making much sense. However, as I look back today, I understand why something as simple as “thank you” was associated as a “golden word”.
To be thankful is to be grateful for the countless blessings we have in our life. So the next time someone lends you a glass of water, say thank you. When someone helps you cross the road, say thank you. When someone offers a listening ear to accompany you in your struggles, say thank you. When you wake up to a beautiful morning, be thankful for the life God has blessed you with, be thankful for the air you breathe, the job you have, the education you’ve received.
Being thankful means to never take your life for granted.
Being thankful also means, that we recognize that our life is entwined with tangles and knots, mistakes and failures, and that His mercy made new in the morning is an ever increasing reminder that we can begin again, no matter what. Gratitude begins the moment we recognize that life is a gift, even if with twisted knots. Because then we realize the gravity of Grace.
What about you friend? Have you hit rock bottom with your myriad of mistakes? I encourage you to begin right there. The place of your pain is your place of power and it begins with being thankful. When you thank the Lord, you will begin to see the mystery of pain and suffering, even if through mistakes and how those very scars can become powerful channels of Grace to the world. Gratitude is powerful. It impacts not just our sanctity but it changes the world around us.
With a grateful heart
So look around, think of ways to intentionally count it all joy and be thankful. A song we often sing at our family prayer time is “Give Thanks” by the famed Christian singer Don Moen. It says: “Give thanks with a grateful heart, Give thanks to the Holy One, Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His only Son and now the weak say I am strong”. This simple song reminds me that God has given us Jesus Christ, His only Son to show us the way, the truth, and the life and that is something we must be thankful for every day, through prayer and worship.
Friend, it’s nothing short of a miracle that we are all here. Everything we see around us is a miracle, it’s a blessing. The sweet aroma around us, earth’s scenic beauty, the fruits we eat, our precious wildlife, our near and dear friends, our trusting family, relationships, deaths, births and everything in between. The Creator who provides is at work tirelessly to grant us the riches of His kingdom. All we are required to do is ‘Give thanks’ in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
What’s on your gratitude list? While building on your list, perhaps hum that familiar tune….
“…because of what the Lord has done for us, Give thanks!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sheiba Mary Philip, is employed as a HR associate analyst. As a resident of Bangalore aka the ‘Garden City’ of India, she enjoys nature photography, gardening and long walks especially if it means having her dog Philly for company. She holds close to the Word of God for direction in living out a purpose – driven life. Music is her favorite form of expression. So whether locked in her room or all out in worship, her song always echoes the deepest voice of her heart. Connect with her on Instagram @sheiba_mary