I recently watched a short yet impressive video online entitled “In the Spirit of Thanksgiving” where random individuals were stopped on the streets of New York City and were asked a simple question, namely, what they are thankful for. Interspersed with the gathered responses are portions of a General Conference message given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks back in 2003 aptly named “Give Thanks in All Things.”
In his address, Elder Oaks proclaims, “Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality.” He goes on to say that “When we give thanks in all things, we see hardships and adversities in the context of the purpose of life.”
I can see the fruits of that apostolic statement in my own life. Many of the trials and heartbreaks that were the hardest for me to endure have been the times, ultimately, I’ve most benefited from. God’s plans are perfect and the way he orchestrates each life so mercifully is truly amazing. Here are a few things that I can now say I truly am thankful for.
I’m thankful I didn’t get the banking industry job I thought I wanted after college. Instead, after having been rejected, I took the beauty advisor position I had applied for on a whim. It didn’t have any power or prestige associated, but it was one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had. It gave me the opportunity to meet all sorts of people and help them feel good about themselves and the way they look and come across to others. No, I didn’t solve the problems of the world helping people pick out the right color of lipstick for their skin tone, but I had the privilege of helping individuals, in small ways, better understand the individual and divine worth they truly have–ultimately, the worth we have because we are all children of God.
I’m thankful that people openly express their opinions that are at odds with mine. I have to give John Myers a shout-out on this one. Reading his respectful articles makes me dig deeper into my own set of religious beliefs to understand why I really do feel the way I do. When someone questions the authenticity of the Bible, or the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, or why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints got into the Prop 8 debate, or so on, it makes me take a good look at myself and my faith. I always have, and always will, come back to that I know the Church is true. But, my testimony is so much stronger now than it ever would have otherwise been if I didn’t have exposure to what others can’t seem to understand about the faith that I love with all my heart.
I’m thankful for health that prevents me from currently working outside the home. About two years ago I suffered from the onset of fibromyalgia-like symptoms and have since struggled to complete everyday activities like standing up and fixing dinner. I’m so much better now than I was at the beginning, but I still have a limited amount of energy and endurance. When it became evident my life plans would need to change, I turned to the internet to see what kind of work I could find that would be possible given my inherent physical weaknesses. Being in humble circumstances but willing to try, I was so blessed to find sites like Associated Content from where I could add to my income, working at my own pace while being the beneficiary of such kindness around me. These positive experiences would not have come without my limitations.
I’m thankful that my family isn’t perfect. I’d hate to stick out like a sore thumb in such a group. I imagine we all have a handful of family-related exchanges that we’d just like to forget, and I’m so thankful that through the Atonement of Christ we really can exercise and receive forgiveness for the wrongs that take place. I know my family loves me and overlooks my incredibly prominent flaws. And, I know we are stronger, better people when we experience and triumph over the heartaches that come with being human and not always thinking of others as we should. I’m thankful I can learn with my family to be better, and that through the sealing power of God’s great priesthood, we can live together forever if we each do our part to rely on the Atonement and to return to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
But most of all, I’m thankful for the extra demands I have that come from knowing that God lives and that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World. With privileges and blessings come added responsibility, and I’m so thankful that I have the duties associated with trying to be more like Jesus. I know that He lives, and I’m so thankful I know that. It doesn’t prevent me from never feeling sad, or never getting overwhelmed, or never doubting that I can handle the pains ahead of me. But, it makes life’s troubles okay. We can’t say thank you enough to God for the matchless gift of His Son, redeeming the world and giving us a peace in this life and hope for the life to come. I’m so thankful for the Prophet Joseph Smith ringing in this dispensation of the fullness of times as God’s appointed servant to restore His Gospel on this earth. I know that my conduct doesn’t always reflect the pure knowledge that I have, and I know I need to do better. I’m so very thankful I have that exact opportunity: to keep doing better and better.
Additional Note: When Elder Dallin H. Oaks cited the need to “give thanks in all things,” he was referencing a scripture found in the Book of Mormon, more specifically, in Mosiah 26:39. If you’d like a free copy of the Book of Mormon, you can request one by visiting Mormon.org and scrolling down to the bottom of the page where you can find directions–or you can simply use this Request a Copy link.
“In the Spirit of Thanksgiving – Mormon Messages.” Youtube.com.
“LDS.org – Ensign Article – Give Thanks in All Things.” LDS.org.