It Pays to be Thankful
by Janice S Ramkissoon

I've been looking in the mirror and not liking what I see; wondering if my reflection will ever represent who I am inside. How do I re-shape my way of thinking or behaviour without dealing with the external issues that contribute to my now self?

One book tells me to 'Praise Him in everything' another says: 'Make a list of all the good things and give God thanks.' But when I finished 'praising' and being 'thankful' the reality of all the negative stuff (some of which radiates from the good things I've been thankful for) are still there. They still hurt and most are still unresolved. What do I do then?

Do I just keep repeating 'Thank You, You've been good to me?' You would probably say the answer is YES, and I agree. Anything but a grateful heart would just send me on a slow boat to hell and most of that time would be spent in the confines of a mental institution. But I would go much further by saying: 'YES, continue to exercise a heart of gratitude but ALSO seek direction in bringing resolution to unresolved issues.'

If unresolved issues remain that way, then it leaves room for the return of the evil spirits, returning with friends they met while they were out. It then becomes that much harder to understand and to deal with, and that's a very dark place to be. When you get to this place, no one can reach you because nothing makes sense and you can no longer see reason to be thankful.

So this time, instead of just writing a list of all the good things in my life to be thankful for, I also wrote a list of all the negative things that have taken place and never been dealt with. This allowed me to finally face up to my fears, seeing them for what they are and allowing myself to be free from the unresolved issues in my life.

In tears I wrote them, with anger I unearth them. A flush of emotions rushing through my system. I organised them and I eventually had to take a break to ease the pain. I found this task to be deeply disturbing and draining. Thankfully, my husband was there to help me ease the pain and by so doing, gave me another reason to add to my list of positives.

Making this list was one of the best things I could have done. It opened the door for reasoning. I questioned God. I soon realised that having not dealt with these issues as they appeared, became the downfall of me. Now I could see them in clear view and recognised how they have individually affected different aspects of my life. All these issues combined, crippled me emotionally and spiritually but physically I was doing just fine, leaving little room for anyone to recognise the damage.

There was always something to do: course-works or exams; a new project at work; things to do at home or my involvement at church and in the community. As long as there was work to do I would just keep busy with every intention to deal with those issues later on. But later never came, then the marriage came and soon I was pregnant, we were excited and nothing could wipe the smiles off our faces. Whoops! Did I say that, I think we broke the 'happiness law' because our little angel was taken away before we could say hello. Being certain this was due to the amount of stress I was undergoing, I decided to slow down when I became pregnant the following year.

I reduced my hours and involvement with my community activities, only to increase it again through church involvement shortly after our son was born. And when the baby blues refused to go, more reductions came. I didn't feel that I was the best person to help at the time but it was through helping that led me to draw up my list of negatives.

I have a passion for youth ministry, yet I found myself in a position of not being able to give of myself fully. It was then definitely time for some soul-searching and it started with a list of negatives. It would have been hypocritical of me to have continued as if nothing was wrong and all was well with my soul.

Once I made my list, I then analysed each point and found the positives that were hidden in each one. Some of the scars are still evident today but the healing process began. It has been a painful journey so far but a worthwhile one. Now, I can see a much clearer future, the anger is gone and I am experiencing a more personal and closer walk with God.

I can now agree with all the authors who encourages us to continue being thankful, even through the stormy rains. I can also add: that a grateful heart will help you through these stormy days. Why not make a list of your own and see beyond the hurt? God can turn all your negatives into something positive. Allow Him to change your attitude and turn your life around.

Copyright 2006 Janice S. Ramkissoon

Janice, a freelance writer, lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with her husband, Vince and their son, Javin.  She uses her gift to encourage others towards a deeper relationship with God, through her inspirational pieces while her travel articles provide general advice for the holiday-maker.

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