Learning to Be Thankful
Both of my parents were raised by single moms. They knew that their moms loved them, but life was challenging and neither of my parents had strong examples of how to be a husband and a wife. But because of their life growing up, they felt a strong commitment about what they wanted to do and be for their own children—even if they didn't know how to make a marriage work over the long term.
When my parents divorced, I didn’t understand what was happening. Our whole world changed! Mom started working two jobs so we had a whole lot of unsupervised time on our hands, and we found trouble. Dad tried to discipline me and my grandmother dragged me to church to have the fear of God put in me, but that didn’t seem to work. I was angry and stubborn. Yet it is amazing that somehow small seeds were planted during those visits to church that would urge me to look to God at different times in my life.
I remember the day when I stole a bike from school and my dad found out. He took me to the police station and turned me in. I spent several hours sitting in a cell wondering if my life was over. When my dad came back for me, brought me home, and put me to bed, I prayed for what was probably the first time. I realized how lucky I was—for my mom and dad, for my bed, and for getting me out of the jail cell and giving me another chance! Even though I didn’t really know God, I knew enough to thank Him. As I grew older and faced challenge after challenge, I learned that thanking God and looking for what God was doing in my life were the best responses I could have. Giving thanks in all circumstances became a way of life when I became an adult (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Around seventh grade, my brother and I lived with my dad. Our neighborhood was full of bad influences, so when we weren’t at school, we were inside. I’m grateful to this day for how Dad protected us. One day, my dad met Coach Kerry who ran an inner-city youth football team. He made it his mission to use football as a tool to teach young men about life. Dad would let us play football, but only if we got our grades up. We started the school year with our heads in our books, and after few good grades, Dad signed us up to play on Coach Kerry’s team. Coach pushed us on the field and pushed us to get the most out of life. He mixed all sorts of his sports lessons with life lessons. God had provided me with an amazing opportunity to stay out of trouble and excel in a way that would eventually provide me with a future.
How would you describe your understanding of God when you were a child?
What experiences have helped you see your need to straighten out your life? How did these experiences change your persepective on God and life?
What can you be thankful to God for?