Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I'm Thankful For...

I love revisiting my old elementary school essays. It's always fun to try and remember what little Paul was thinking of when he sat down to write (with a pencil and paper!) those incredibly superfluous essays on summer vacation, Christmas, and of course Thanksgiving.

The question was always posed: what are you thankful for? And the answer was always as unsatisfying as the question: my mom and dad, my siblings, going to Grandma's house. The things we were drilled to be thankful for since the beginning. The essays we wrote were drier than cardboard cereal and more vague than a politician's lie. It wasn't our fault, the truth is a child's life experience boils down to those things. The true measure of that question, drilled into our minds, is how thankfulness plays out in our lives today. 

My life cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered hard. I grew up in a stable household, I always went to the best schools, and returned home to a square meal and the luxuries many kids around the world only can dream about. Life growing up wasn't fancy, but it was more than enough to be thankful for. The challenges I faced and the problems I had to solve were mainly self-inflicted (here's looking at your last semester of undergrad). So while part of me feels absolutely like I shouldn't write this for the sake of feeling self-righteous and bloated, another part of me really wants to let this next paragraph out. 

It wasn't until last year I began to truly believe in God's plan for my life. There really is a plan. All throughout my schooling I relied on talent to get by and deep down I really felt God was my safety blanket, someone who was there for me when I fell but who I really never needed. He had blessed me with intelligence and charisma. I saw not graduating on time as a hiccup in my world, a nudge in the right direction. But then I was put in a situation I had no control over. In Braithwaite I was completely helpless, a rookie thrown into the deep end of an assignment I dreaded at first. Rumors about my job security swirled while the hours grew longer and I didn't know where to turn. 

That's when it hit me. 

This wasn't a roadblock. This was a test. A test to see if I really did believe in God. God isn't a safety blanket in your life. He's the car and He's driving, but sometimes He lets us steer like a proud father does with his children. One night before I went to bed after finishing a twelve-hour shift I asked God for forgiveness. To let me see His plan. To let me steer. Carrie Underwood knew what she was talking about in "Jesus, Take The Wheel." A day later the storms began to clear. I was excited about my job again, excited about my future again. I found WinForever and began to apply those lessons to my life. I left Braithwaite ecstatically, with a plan and a future. I resolved three things to God when I returned to Baton Rouge: 

It was never about the money. Nothing is ever about the money. 
I had never been living up to my potential. It's time to change that. 
It's the hardest things in life you should be the most thankful for. When everything is taken away, only then can you begin to appreciate the things that mean the most to you. 

A year later I'm the happiest I've ever been since I sat down to write that first essay all those years ago. My childlike joy and faith has been restored and it is that for which I am most thankful. From that I can continue to change the world the way God intends me to do so. 

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