Thanksgiving has a different feel this year. 2020 has been challenging in so many ways. Emotions and feelings are real and raw. Many are even now facing difficulties they didn’t see coming.
Typically, in this season, I sit down and reflect on the events, circumstances and people who have impacted my life. This is what I’m thankful for this year.
My relationship with God. When all is turned upside down in your life, who do you turn to? I turn to God. I believe that He has my best in His plans. I read His Word and gain wisdom, strength and comfort. I pray and I feel His presence and leading. I worship Him to recognize that I am not the center of everything and He is bigger than everything I face. I invite Him into each day, knowing I cannot do it alone. I am a better human because of my relationship with Him.
My relationship with Kristin. I love my wife. There are truly amazing people in this world that fascinate and enrich my life. She beats them all. I am thankful for her wisdom, passion and visionary leadership. Many people get to see her lead publicly. I get to see her love on her kids/grandkids, smile in the sunshine and listen to her laugh. She is my gift from God. I am a better man because of her.
My relationship with my family. My family is quite diverse in our personalities, gifts and talents. I wouldn’t change any of them. We laugh, cry and disagree with the same degree of intensity. But we fight for each other. We pray and intercede when one of us needs it. We believe the best in each other and we forgive when needed. From the oldest to the youngest, they are my treasure. I am a better person because of my family.
My church. We moved to Tampa almost twenty-seven years ago to work at Grace Family Church. We left all of our family behind in Orlando. Who knew God gave and continues to give me a “family” with those I work with and have the honor of leading? This year more than ever, I am truly am grateful for these relationships. I missed so many of our staff and congregation when our doors were closed for a time. Zoom is great, but seeing someone in person is much better. This is my “Tampa Family.” I understand life better because of them.
After these, the list can get pretty extensive. So, let me give one more thing I am thankful for in 2020…
My Fishing Pole. This year I began fishing regularly. It was outside, alone and it gave me something to do. I learned how to tie knots, hold a fish by the mouth and move through the gills to extract the hook. It was a great time with my kids, grandkids and good friends. I have fished all my life sporadically. This year it became my retreat. Either in the Gulf of Mexico or on my lake, I fished. I caught some good ones and lost more than I wish.
I am thankful for the time. This year, I needed to get away and listen to God. I faced some of the biggest moments and challenges of my life. I shouted, cried and sat silent many of those times while holding the fishing pole. I needed to pour out my frustration, questions and anger. I needed to repent, forgive and release. I needed to know I wasn’t alone when things felt like it was all on me. Fishing gave me the space in my own journey to figure it out. I lost a lot of baggage this year and gained a new level of peace and strength.
My prayer for all of us this Thanksgiving is that you have those things in your life that make you better. I also hope you have those moments in your life that give you the margin to take the next step.