Today I celebrate a different kind of birthday. For those of you who know me, I celebrated my 24th birthday 10 days ago. Today is different. Today I celebrate my 17th rebirth-day. It's the day that 17 years ago, I gave my life to Jesus and promised to follow him. I asked Him to forgive my sins and come into my life. I was just past my seventh birthday.
It's never been a decision that I've regretted. Even during times when I was far away from God by my own choosing, He chose to gently draw me back. He loves me even when I feel unlovable. My faith doesn't mean that my life will be easy. However, it does mean that I'll have someone to lean into during the difficult times. During the times when I just want to hide under the covers and not come out for months on end, He is faithful.
I've had reason to be thankful for that the past few weeks. The past few weeks have been...tough...no, more than tough. They've been "tears everyday, just want to stay in bed, where's my chocolate, life sucks, don't even want to tackle the mountain of homework that I've put off to deal with this junk" weeks.
Those are literally the thoughts I've had almost everyday lately.
And yet, I am so glad that 17 years ago I made the decision to follow Jesus.
When I feel like I just can't take one more piece of bad news, Jesus holds me.
When I feel like I have no more strength left, Jesus is my strength.
When I start sobbing, Jesus comforts.
I'm thankful for my relationship with Jesus.
I'm thankful for the other Christians He has put in my life to encourage me the past few weeks.
I am thankful that He loves me.
I am thankful that He saved me and that I can lean on Him.
I am thankful that His comfort is the best kind of comfort.
I am thankful that He has given me the strength to get through the last few weeks and will give me the strength to get through the weeks ahead.
I am thankful for His peace and the grace that He has given me so that I can extend it to others.
I am thankful for His forgiveness so that He can help me forgive others.
I am thankful for music that refocuses me on Him and is a balm to my wounded heart.
I am thankful for hugs... hugs help everything and are truly an extension of Jesus.
I am thankful for the prayers of friends and family and for a God who hears and answers those prayers.
I am thankful that I never walk alone.
I've found that one of the best cures for sadness is thankfulness. And service is right behind it. When I take my mind off of my problems and focus on doing something for someone else, it helps. All of the sudden I'm not inward focused on me and my problems, though people might surely tell me that I have a right to be upset and maybe even hold a little bit of a pity party.
But that's not how God calls us to live.
He calls us to forgive. He calls us to keep our eyes focused on Him, not on us or our problems.
So today, on my rebirth-day, I am choosing to keep my focus on Him.