Last summer I read an interesting article about something called a gratitude journal. It was on a writer’s website, and the purpose of the journal was to come up with topics and subjects for your writing. I really liked this idea, but I tried it for a different reason.
I had just moved home from an almost year-long internship in Florida, and I was having a hard time adjusting back to life here. I was facing the most terrifying question: “Now what?” The goal of grade school was to get to college. The goal of college was to get my degree and get to this internship. My entire life, I felt, had led up to that. There wasn’t really a plan for after that (let’s be real: there STILL isn’t a plan for after that), and I kind of fell into a rut that would take months to get out of. So I decided to try this gratitude journal.
Some days this journal served as my only prayer because praying from the rut was hard. As we’ve all heard at some point, there’s always something to be thankful for in each day. The big and little things that made me smile during the day were brought to God before I went to bed, and I filled up a small notebook after a few months of loyally writing about songs, encounters with others, food, etc.
It helped. Boy, did it help. In today’s world so many people are looking at the negative things going on in their lives, be it on a global scale or that one idiot who cut you off while driving to get frozen custard. I know I fall into the habit sometimes of complaining and playing the victim when work gets to be too much or when I have the moments of frustration that come with single young adulthood and these aches and desires that aren’t going to be fulfilled in this stage of my life. The roots and commitments I long for aren’t here yet. But that doesn’t mean that I have nothing in this period of my life.
On the contrary, I have SO much: people who care, a support system that believes in me even when I don’t see much worth looking at, an education, opportunities to better myself and love those around me. Things are good in spite of the negative things that sneak into my everyday life. They can’t consume me. God doesn’t let them touch me. He doesn’t give me more than I can handle. If I’d think about that instead of what color to use for the table clothes at my “woe is me” pity parties, I’d probably have a lot less anxiety. I’d be more joyful. When I’m joyful, I’m more myself than anything else. And, as Blessed Mother Teresa once said, “Joy is strength.”
Joy is strength to keep moving forward when things get tough. Joy is strength to grow into the person God is calling you to be. Joy is strength to be there for others.
Joy is strength.
There’s always going to be something that brings us down and tries to steal our peace, but there is also always going to be something that gives us hope that life is indeed beautiful. We’re not in Heaven yet, people, and following/choosing God doesn’t magically make things easy; instead it makes things worth it. God is good like that.
Here are some things that I’m thankful for in this moment:
-The sky was SO blue yesterday and again today!
-Reading a good book (I’m only like 60 pages in right now, but read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children).
-My supportive family and getting to do everything and nothing with them.
-Good friends who call me to be better and who love me in that process.
-Being able to witness a new community of Catholic youth coming together.
-My Guardian Angel being so good at his/her job of protecting me. You the real MVP.
-Plantation tours and wildlife preserves.
-A best friend coming to visit for a whole week.
-The possibility of new possibilities.
-Cameras. Like actual, real, not-your-cellphone cameras.
-The Divine Mercy Chaplet.
-Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
I think I’m going to start another gratitude journal, and I have the perfect notebook for it (thanks, Sharon!).
What are you thankful for?