The sun was beaming and radiating as I strolled down Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. On my journey, I made a new friend. She provided me with a few words of inspiration. She shared about how her faith provided her with the confidence to be content and remain in peace. What a timely message- as I strolled the beach seeking a place of refuge for renewal, reflection, and retreat however each moment was interrupted by the endless phone notifications for new emails, incoming calls, and text messages. As I listened to her gentle voice, I became focused and took a deep breath to usher in peace.
My new friend introduced herself and then transitioned into a conversation about the power of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the key to unleashing gratitude. Gratitude is about being thankful and showing appreciation. Your gratitude determines your altitude in life. It begins with a positive mindset which shapes your outlook on the world around you. It serves as your compass pointing you in the direction of your life’s purpose.
Next, she took me on a trip down memory lane which turned into a brief history lesson. She shared about what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression. She told me of her experience picking cotton for 25 cents per day. She smiled brightly when she shared about going to the movies whenever she had an extra 10 cents. But, her most joyous occasion was something money could not buy. Her happiest moments were at Sunday school and her favorite pastime was singing hymns.
Another smile beamed across her face as she described the day that she learned the lyrics of the hymn: “Count your Blessings One by One.” She shared about how her Sunday school teacher gave each pupil a sheet of paper. One student filled his sheet of paper with his gratitude list and requested more sheets of paper. His classmates sneered at the overachiever however the teacher praised him. She reminded the entire class that: “we can never count all of the blessings we have been giving.”
This brought joy to my spirit. I was reminded of my Grandma Nellie’s love of hymns and beautiful angelic soprano voice. My grandmother also sang this hymn which demonstrated the transformative power of gratitude.
I suddenly recalled the lyrics:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done! Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold; Count your many blessings—money cannot buy Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
On this Thanksgiving, what are you grateful for? I challenge you to count your blessings and name them one by one. As I write today, I am grateful for God’s love and grace. One of my favorite scriptures is:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
I am grateful for seeing this plan manifested each and every day through our work in the Planting People, Growing Justice Leadership Institute. I am grateful for the blessing of family and the gift of friendship. I am grateful for you and the rest of the Planting People, Growing Justice community.