The gift of being thankful

Church has always been a center of my life, but the Lord has always been my focus. I was so involved in the church that my level of who I was as a member seemed to be like a promotion.

First, I started off in the pew in the back, then an usher, to now being a Sunday School teacher. And then my pastor asked me to give a short testimony on why I was thankful. He asked me to type it out and email it to him to review.

I panicked at the thought of speaking in front of so many people about something personal, let alone not being cliché about what I was truly thankful for.

Thoughts ran through my mind about what I should write, and how honest I should be, considering that these people should be like family. I thought about a young man who gave his testimony a week before and made the whole congregation burst into tears.

Then I thought of my best friend who had been through hell and back and thought that her testimony was perfect for the occasion. But it wasn’t about being over the top or outdoing someone. It was about being honest.

Sunday came and I had nothing to read. I felt so bad that I had to improvise on why I was thankful. But I thought about it, I told myself anyone who is honestly thankful shouldn’t have to think, it should all come naturally.

The pastor took so long calling my name that I relaxed and was sure he wasn’t going to ask me to come up. But he did. I was nervous. I sat in the very last pew and the distance between the last pew and the stage felt like three miles. I thought I was on my way down the walk of shame.

I got on the mic. I looked around at everybody, their faces serious; I took a long pause before I spoke.

Before I knew it, I was speaking and this is what I had to say:

“I could easily thank God all day long like I usually do for the family I have, the clothes on my back, the roof over my head and even putting me in school.”

As I thought about my best friend, I thought of trials and tribulations. I thought of how she started off with God and then drifted away, worshipping other gods and idols.

My best friend has been through it all and I wished that I had an amazing story to tell like she did. I tried to think of a testimony in my life. something that drifted me away from God and brought me back to him. And I couldn’t.”

I felt my leg start to shake because I was so nervous that every sentence I said, I had to immediately think of the next thing I was going to say. The longer I spoke, the more natural it came.

“I couldn’t think of one single thing that could drift me away from God; and I didn’t think of that as something to honestly be thankful for.

My life is everything but perfect, but today I’ve realized I’ve had moments of complete breakdown and even then, I never questioned God’s love for me, the purpose he has for me to be here and where he’s going to take me in my future.

I never stopped to thank God into building me into someone so strong that even though my surroundings may be disturbed; he’s kept my head straight, my mind focused and my eyes on the prize.”

The audience began to applaud for me and nod repeatedly in agreement. I lost focus but got back on track.

“Never had I thanked him for allowing me to see that at times my life can be bad but a lot of people have it much worse. So I am thankful.

My dad once told me that life spoiled me. That anything I’ve ever wanted in life I got. And I told him no, God spoils me. He’s doing it because he knows he can use me at anytime, as a vessel to get things done that need to be done.

I’m so thankful. I always thought that there were two types of people in this world. The ones who have to go through a near death experience to find God or to trust him and the ones who learn from a slap on the wrist.

I believe everyone has been slapped on the wrist by the Lord, but it was up to you to listen the first time.”

I ended my speech with a “thank you.” Before I could get down to the last step, everyone was standing up applauding and I couldn’t believe something I did so spontaneous turned out to be a success.

At that moment, I learned a small lesson of
walking by faith and not by sight.