Several weeks ago we turned the clocks back an hour. Now it is dark before dinner. I love the cozy moments of late fall/winter. Blankets, reading a good book, watching a movie on the couch, Christmas lights, holiday activities and falling snow are some great moments of the cold season in Pennsylvania.
But with those moments also comes seasonal depression. Not getting out of the house as often, lack of sunshine because of the many gray days, bitter cold temperatures that seep into your bones, snow that is counted in feet rather than inches… seasonal depression is a real thing for me. Sometimes the snow keeps me stuck in the house for days because I cannot maneuver my chair through the drifts. That leads to loneliness and too much time alone. And as a people person and extrovert, loneliness is not my friend.
A few years ago I was so tired of having the winter blahs that I was getting on my own nerves. I was feeling so down in the dumps that I couldn’t even stand my own company. I was sad, lonely, bored, cranky, frustrated and restless. One morning I read my daily verse and it said,
“Rejoice Always, Pray without ceasing, In EVERYTHING, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The words IN EVERYTHING jumped out at me. I am called to give thanks when my car is broken (which was my situation most of this month); or when my wheelchair stops running (which is frequent); or when my health is bad; or when I am upset about a situation or circumstance; or even when I am just lonely and bored. I need to give thanks all of the time, not just when things are good but in everything. That’s not always easy for me. Sometimes I just want to sit alone, having a pity party and whine, pout and mope.
After reading that verse, I pulled out a notebook and decided to write down things I was thankful for because I wanted to focus on the blessings in my life. I started writing a list down every day and I found myself coming out of my funk. Amazingly when you start consciously looking for things you are grateful for, your head and your heart start to change. It isn’t as easy to be self focused when you intentionally become thankful.
With Thanksgiving being this week, we are often asked “What are you thankful for this year?” At this time of year we are quicker to share the things that make us thankful. While this is a great yearly practice, I think we need to make gratitude a constant state of mind.
We can’t always change our circumstances (I will most likely not wake up tomorrow able to walk), but we can begin to look for things in our circumstances that are good.
Depression is a very real thing and I do not want anyone to think I am saying that it isn’t. I take (and need to take) daily anti depressants to help me with my mental health. But I have found that intentionally looking for gratitude, especially in my moments of anxiety, depression and frustration really helps me refocus my mind which then transforms my heart.
With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you take time to give thanks but also that you begin to daily become thankful in everything. Begin a gratitude journal and write down at least 5 things daily and watch it transform your attitude.
A few excerpts from my journal:
I am thankful for:
Clean sheets that smell fresh like Tide
Laughing with friends until it hurts
Life chats with my sons, Zach & Alex
Worshipping God freely without fear
Target trips with my daughter, Morgan
Christmas lights that brighten up the darkness
Long phone conversations with my Mom or Jen
Craft times with my nieces
FaceTime chats with Camryn, my 4 year old niece
Homemade applesauce & the smell of apples and cinnamon
Getting my van back after weeks of it not working (thanks Steve for finding the magic place)
A power wheelchair that drives fast and doesn’t kill my arms
Sunday afternoon naps
My paralysis giving me opportunities to meet new people
Ordering pizza and not cooking dinner
Memories of Thanksgiving around my Grandma’s table
Wednesday night youth group with amazing kids & awesome teaching by Jaiden
Getting so involved in a good book that I lose track of time
It’s not always big things but little moments of thankfulness. Adopt an attitude of gratitude!
Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy time with your family and friends sharing a yummy meal around the table! And wear your fat pants so you aren’t uncomfortable when you go for seconds! Stretchy pants should definitely make the thankful list!
Six of my biggest reasons to be thankful! ❤️