MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION
By Deion Sanders with Tejado W. Hanchell, Ph. D
Thanksgiving Day – it’s one of my favorite holidays even though I haven’t been home to celebrate it in over a decade. So, I’m extremely excited to say the least that I will be home this Thanksgiving Day! I look forward to the food, family, friends…and football! I can almost taste the turkey, collard greens, black-eyed peas, rice, yams, macaroni and cheese, ham and sweet potato pie now (Let me stop, because I’m getting sleepy!). But, while this day has become mostly known for a gathering of family – even though there’s always one person you wished wouldn’t show up – it was originally designed for giving thanks. Thanksgiving Day is the kickoff (pun intended) of the holiday season (and the Black Friday sales), which is marked by giving. Most people give money, time and gifts during the holidays to help spread the good will and holiday cheer, and it all starts with Thanksgiving DAY. Let that sink in a moment – we have a DAY designed for giving thanks. I don’t know about you, but one day doesn’t seem like nearly enough to give God thanks for all the many blessings He has given to us. So instead of just celebrating Thanksgiving, let’s celebrate ThanksLIVING. Let’s make EVERY day a day of giving thanks.
You don’t need a special SEASON to give thanks. You don’t even need a special REASON to give thanks. The reality is that we all have SOMETHING to be thankful for regardless of what you’re going through right now. Even if you think your life is not as good as it SHOULD be, you ought to be thankful that it’s not as bad as it COULD be! (If I was in church preaching, the organist would have hit me right there!) No matter how bad you have it right now, there is someone who has it worse and would willingly change places with you right now. And chances are that person is more thankful than you are. We must remember in all things to give thanks. Which reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures, “Whatsoever things are honest, just pure, and lovely…think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
One of my spiritual mentors, Bishop Alfred Owens, is famous for singing a medley of the songs “I Won’t Complain” and “Thank You”. He reminds me that “All of my good days, outweigh my bad days. [Therefore], I won’t complain.” Because, “It could have been me, outdoors, with no food, and no clothes.” If you’re reading this blog on your computer or phone right now, you are blessed. If you have a roof over your head, running water in your house, and access to some form of transportation, you are in the top 15% of wealthiest persons in the world. There are 85% of the people on the planet who would LOVE to have your problems! Even though you think you have more problems that a math book, every day, you need to give thanks.
Don’t let the negative situation negate your thanks. Even if your life isn’t all good, you need to thank God that He is good. Here are a few ways you can celebrate ThanksLIVING every day.
1. Take a pass on dwelling on the past.
Today is a brand new day. There’s no need to focus on yesterday. That’s the one attribute you must have to be a cornerback. You will get beat on a play, but you can’t have a long memory. You have to forget the last play and line up for the next one. When we spend all of our time worrying about what happened yesterday, it’s like trying to drive forward in your car, while looking into your rearview mirror. You cannot see what’s ahead of you if you’re focused on what’s behind you. At some point you’re going to have a wreck! I’ve said it before, the past is a great teacher, but it is a terrible landlord. LEARN from the past…don’t LIVE in it!
If your past was especially painful, you just need to be thankful that it’s over! Also, learn to thank God for all the experiences in your past – whether good or bad – because the Bible says that all things work together for your good (Romans 8:28). Your past was the path that led you to where you are today. You need to thank God for closing some of the doors that He closed, and that He put your blessing on layaway, because you weren’t ready for it yet. If it hadn’t happened, you wouldn’t know that you are a way-maker, a conqueror, and a survivor! But since you survived that, you can be thankful that you made it!
2. Celebrate EVERY day like it’s your ONLY day.
One way to be thankful for every day is to treat every day as if it’s the only day you have left…because it could be. I’m not saying, live your bucket list today, but you do need to be all you can be because no one is guaranteed tomorrow. In life, the only guarantee that you have is today – make the most of it. Maximize your moment, and minimize your worry. It’s not hard to be thankful for today when you realize that it’s the only day you have. Every day is precious. It’s a gift from God. That’s why we call it the “present”. Treat it as such. Give thanks for today, and you just might get the opportunity to do the same tomorrow.
3. Expect a fortunate future.
One of the best ways to live a thankful life is to be thankful for things you have yet to experience in your life. I know that may not make sense to many of you, but here’s what I mean. I try to always be thankful for what God is ABOUT to do in my life. Let me give you another example, when you watch “The Price Is Right” when they tell you to come on down you haven’t won anything yet, but people come running and screaming like they EXPECT to win. I’m thankful for my dreams and my goals. It doesn’t matter your address in life, you need to hold on to those dreams…and be thankful for them. I heard my man, LL Cool J, say that “Dreams don’t have deadlines.” When you expect something good to happen in your future, it helps you to be thankful in your present.
You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving Day to be thankful. (I don’t.) You can be thankful today and every day. That’s what I call living a thankful life. That is ThanksLIVING! Please enjoy your food, family, friends, and football, and don’t let anything or anyone distract you from giving thanks. Have a blessed and safe holiday!