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A Heart of Gratitude

December 31, 2014

Happy Holidays to you my valued reader. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and Boxing Day, and you are looking forward to a great 2015. I can’t complain about my Christmas experience this year but I have to admit it was very different. This year we didn’t do BBQs or eat ourselves to constipation like we almost always do every other year, but we had a lovely time together as a family; yes, that includes the dog too. On Christmas day though, we got some bad news that one of our assets had been stolen but by God’s grace and guidance it was recovered before the thugs could sell it to an unsuspecting buyer. I don’t want to talk about this experience (just yet) but in weeks/months to come, I will figure out a way to put that experience into an article.

The phrase “the stars shine the brightest when it is the darkest” comes to mind when I look back at the things we have experienced as a family just in this month of December 2014. However, in the midst of all the challenges we still found something to be thankful to God for. Just being with all our kids and being able to talk to each other and share experiences of how the year has been was a blessing in itself, a shining star in the dark night. Being able to worship God in freedom on Christmas day (and every other day of worship), without fear of persecution was another shining star for us. Being able to share a Christmas breakfast with invited guests and other members of our church was also another shining star. For me, this Christmas was more than just sharing a meal with my family; it was a moment of thanksgiving for everything we have been through because if it didn’t break us, then it has definitely made us wiser and stronger.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that in about 72 hours (for those reading this article on 28th December, 2014), the curtains will finally draw on the year 2014 and rise to usher in the year 2015. It just feels like yesterday when we were counting down seconds before it finally struck 1st January 2014. I don’t know exactly how to describe this year but I think the one word that can describe it (for me) is a “rollercoaster”. Speaking from a personal point of view, I’ve had many highs and lows twice the number of the highs. Half the time I wasn’t even sure I’d pull through the challenges that stared me in the face but somehow God helped me through. I have to admit that this has been one of the toughest and scariest years I have ever gone through as an adult. All the same when I look back, I am really grateful to God because through it all I have truly seen the hand of God and heard His voice speaking to me more than ever before in my life.

I don’t know about you but like I said above, even though this has been one very scary and difficult year for us, in the midst of all that difficulty we have still found stuff to be grateful to God for. Many of the times we humans are so consumed by the challenges we are facing that we forget to see those that we have overcome and those that God has protected us from. So here’s what I’d like to challenge each one of us to do between now and the 31st of December 2014…

Take some time every day to write down the things you are grateful for. For every month, write at least 5 things and if you can, feel free to write even more. My intention in asking you to do this is so that you can realize that even though you may have gone through a very trying time, even though things look bad from where you are sitting or standing, even though it feels like nothing is making sense, there is always something to be thankful for.

A lot of us are miserable because we take so much time focusing on what we do not have that we actually forget to enjoy what we already have. We take so much time trying to acquire what we do not have that we end up never enjoying what we already have. If we were to learn the art of gratitude, we would be happier, healthier and more objective in all the things we do in our lives. We would be content with what and where we are as we work towards achieving greater heights in our lives. When I say content, please do not misunderstand this to mean complacent. No. By being content I mean that you can look back and give yourself a pat on the shoulder for achieving what you have at this moment, as you work towards reaching the goals you have set for yourself. I mean appreciating what you have done so far and not hating yourself for what you have not done yet. I mean acknowledging the fact that you may not be where you want to be at the moment but appreciating the fact that you are not where you used to be. They could be baby steps, but be grateful because as you appreciate what you have done so far, you get the strength to do even more.

So, as 2014 comes to an end in a few days, what are the things you can look back to and say indeed you are grateful for them? What are the lessons you have learnt in the year 2014 that will help you be a better person or achieve your goals faster in 2015? What are the mistakes you made in 2014 that you will intentionally avoid in 2015 to ensure you do not have to go through the same kind of pain you went through in 2015?

I don’t know about you but I have learnt a lot in 2014. I have made a lot of mistakes this year but God help me that I don’t repeat the same mistakes in 2015. Some of the mistakes include trusting the wrong people and my goodness, have I not learnt huge lessons for this!  All in all I am grateful that even though I had “fiends” who I thought were friends, things didn’t turn up as badly as they were meant to. More importantly, I have learnt lessons that I will never forget.

This being the last article for the year 2014 I leave you with these words: there is always, always something to be thankful for. Remember, sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings but it also unlocks the doors of heaven.

I wish you all gratitude today and in the New Year. God bless you all and hopefully, we shall continue meeting here in the New Year.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 28th December, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"

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