Thanks Giving – November 22, 2022 (343-344/365)

“What I’m praying about recently is a change in my way of thinking, my mindset, my attitude.

So I could appreciate what I have, and I wouldn’t feel so bad about what I lost, and I wouldn’t feel so bad about what I don’t have.”

That was a message I sent during a conversation, which was also something I tweeted, and now sharing as a prelude for today’s… what, article? Rambling, more like.

Anyway, yeah. Looking at that second line from another perspective, I’d say that I’d like to be present in the present, and I’d like to be at peace with whatever losses I’ve incurred in my past, whose consequences have even impacted me at present.

And I’ve been watching stuff on YouTube recently that’s been getting me thinking about the whole dopamine process, and how we have the tendency to get a high off of the reward.

I’ve learned that, unfortunately, even if you find yourself consistent with your work at present, if all you’re fixated on is the goal, then you run the risk of… well, stopping. Or I guess if you’d lose a significant chunk off of your motivation if you don’t see the goals according to what you expected, in terms of quality and/or delivery time. 

I’m led back to when I started getting a little more serious about my health, back in the first quarter of 2018. I invested a little into what this one company called a ‘metabolic reset’ program, and I lost 20 pounds at the end of 3 months. Yeah, every time I’m brought to talking about this again, I do have to specify that – still feels like one of my greatest victories, to this day.

Anyway, during the beginning of the program the participants were asked why they signed up, and I told them, with all the drama, that I wanted to ‘take my body back’.

I was able to adhere to their then daily requirement of at least 30 minutes of exercise, I was able to endure the hunger associated with replacing breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner with meal replacement shakes, depending on the schedule… and one factor was that before we even got started, I was plenty motivated.

As I write this I’m lead to recall what may have led me to say what I said to the mentors and my co-participants. I didn’t think I was too fat but I knew I wasn’t so happy when I looked at my bare-assed body in the mirror. I also saw a friend of mine who posted his own ‘result’ after he went through the program; and I was amazed, because I knew he was pretty fat back in college. Finally, I recently had a colonoscopy, and for some reason the favorable results (besides polyps that they removed then and there), on top of all I’ve been realizing at this time – all of it got me excited to get started.

More than 4 years later, and I’m still very consistent with my working out, but I’ve definitely… what, backslid, on the food intake. And because of this, I’ve gained 10 pounds back. Granted, I’ve gotten feedback that I still look pretty good, but when I see my paunch, and I know that I haven’t been as consistent as I used to be. Actually, to be honest, I only started to see a 4-pack at my best… I don’t know, I could blame it on ‘life’ all I could, but that’s as good as it got for me.

That’s what I’m trying to point out in all this recalling, I guess. I was quick to mention that being fixated solely on the goal isn’t as effective as we’d like… but on the other hand, you give it enough time, and the energy and motivation you had when you started would eventually fade away as well.

I’ve learned, or maybe I was reminded today that we shouldn’t be looking primarily at where we’re going, or where we’ve been, if our problem is to take the first step, or to keep on stepping. I’ll skip all the scientific explanations regarding how dopamine works and all that – because I don’t know, it was all pretty Greek to me. No, I’ll just say that there’s pleasure to be found in the work.

Just as we say that the journey is as sweet as the destination, so we’re saying, maybe remembering that the work is as sweet as the prize. Heck, maybe the work makes the prize seem sweeter.

I mean, it’s been helping me so far, today. It’s helped me by way of challenging me to give my best in any process at any time – not just at the kick start, nor at the final moments.

It’s helped me to correct myself. I was told that I needed to drive in order to complete a particular home chore.  This was out of the ordinary so I let out a bit of unnecessary attitude. With all this that was on my mind I brought myself to focus on the present and therefore took a deep breath and engaged before we actually went out to drive as needed.

Heck, it’s helping me right now, as I eat a chicken shawarma. I’m appreciating each bite. Sure, I may just be hungry (first meal of the day) but the idea of giving due focus on the present had me noticing the flavors better, and also chewing each bite more; eating to eat, and not thinking of it as a respite or reward.

/* that was good. Thank You, Lord. */

Through all this I just have to say that I may not necessarily have all the specifics down as to how I feel, or how any of this is helping (if at all), but I will give thanks to God, because even during these times that challenge my well-being, or, hell, my entire being, I can still keep on going, I can still keep on typing, merely because I know that I have been so blessed by the manifest presence of the Creator of the Universe, knowing He was with me in the cringe of the past, confident He will be with me up to the end of time and beyond.. but today, specifically, I take comfort, and I rest in the truth of His being with me, right here, right now.

To be thankful of this unleashes me to see the rest of my circumstances and my situations at present, with a mindset of gratitude… and it is with said gratitude that I could find focus and motivation, no matter what is present in the present.

And I suppose that’s a start. I can give thanks, and in so doing have some significant appreciation for what I have right now; In fact, in my giving thanks, I put myself in the right place – that is, to recognize my own flaws and capabilities, recognizing and acknowledging the facts concerning all I’m going through, no matter if I’m aware of them or not. In my giving thanks, I can see myself in such humbled position, for it is in giving thanks that I recognize God’s love, mercy and faithfulness, for me and never against me, no matter how affected I may be in whatever is going on right now.

I can give thanks for the faithfulness of my God, preserving me and possibly keeping things from getting any worse during those cringe moments of the past. In my giving thanks I recognize that no matter what I lost, I still had God, and He still has me.

I can give thanks to God for being with me even now – anyone else could have told me ‘I told you so’ as I began to realize the suffering associated with the errors I’ve done, whether those that have hit me one-time-big-time or those that have accumulated and compounded over time; but, no, in His infinite wisdom and everlasting love, He showed Himself as faithful even when I suffered. I thank God, for His ministry towards me in the past years, and His ministering to me even at this moment.

Whenever I feel as if nothing is happening in my life, I shouldn’t have to dig too deep – even in these moments when condemnation would try (and fail) to take over me, Christ will always remain true, and therefore I will always have a ready reason for me to give thanks. And it’s in giving thanks that I recognize that I may not see everything, but God does – and He is for me, and never against me.

Whenever I feel as if everything is happening in my life, I shouldn’t have to dig too deep either. The rest of the world may try to weigh me down, but it’s in these moments that I am reminded of Christ willing to have us cast our burdens upon Him. I give thanks, for the yoke He has is easy. I give thanks, for His burden is light. I give thanks, because even in these strenuous moments, there will always be a reason to rest, as Christ is our literal rest.

I guess it’s no accident that I’m talking about this in this season, as we approach American (Original) Thanksgiving. Indeed, I am thankful for Thanksgiving, for if we would only remember at least once a year, how the act of gratitude and the act of giving thanks is oft neglected yet is full of revelation and power the moment the first ‘Thank You’ comes out of our mouths… well, God forbid we only remember to give thanks as we ought to once a year.

For I am in full agreement of what is mentioned.

We can find reasons to pray in certain situations more than others. We definitely need to practice good timing when it comes to rejoicing, so that those who are with us would also rejoice appropriately… but of these wonderful opportunities we have in the body of Christ, Paul does remind the Thessalonians, that in everything – not just in exciting times, or good times; It’s in everything we give thanks. The moment we appreciate this as the Will of God, and not merely a command to be blindly followed… oh, that would be so great for me, at least.

And for all of us. When we find ourselves being drained of all life and power because of condemnation – from the outside world and/or from the thoughts from within still influenced so strongly by the flesh – it’s in these moments, and especially these moments that we would appreciate the presence and faithfulness of our Savior… and it’ll just be natural for us to give thanks.

In everything, we give thanks.

I don’t know how I could integrate this for our message in the congregation this coming Sunday, but I’m thankful that we at least have something as early as now. As for the high school kids, well, I’ll go straight to the point – giving them the story behind the first thanksgiving, and going right into how their giving thanks, even in their own lives, could help them immensely.

As a final note to myself I will say that being focused on something and being thankful on something doesn’t necessarily mean that I should spend more time in these things. In fact, it’s also out of thankfulness that we strive to be better – meaning, we’re thankful we have the opportunity to get stronger, to get faster, to get more skilled and adept… but we’re also thankful we have the opportunity to get work of higher-value done within a smaller period of time. I’m only saying this because I certainly seem to have a lot to be writing about in the coming days, leading to the end of this year, and as we transition into 2023.

Had it not been for the Holy Spirit guiding me into thankfulness, I would have just hung my gloves and given up, taking what I want and living a victim mindset; No, rather, it is by the Holy Spirit that I could go ahead and profess that these may be turbulent times, but these are certainly exciting times.

And for this, I thank God.

Until the next post, God bless you.

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