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A couple of days ago, I allowed myself to let something I couldn’t control frustrate and overwhelm me. All I could do was think of how upset and wronged I felt. I called my close girlfriend to vent. Still no peace or calm. I was upset. I called a business associate to get clarity. Still no peace and no calm. I felt angry, hurt, disrespected and underappreciated. After I’d vented, cried and meditated on my frustration and pain, I decided to talk to God about how I was feeling. First thing He said was, “be thankful.” I heard it but I couldn’t see it or feel it.

I was in my feelings, justifiably so I thought. Justified or not, it wasn’t getting me any peace. But I felt justified in my pain and anger. Yet I felt God speaking to my spirit to just “be thankful”. Thankful? Gratitude in that moment felt too passive. Being angry and giving voice to my frustration and my pain made me feel like I was doing something. But those feelings, I soon realized, was making me lose sight of what’s most important.

So in my car, I began to speak out loud all the things I could think of that I was thankful for: my health, which has faced some challenges, my kids who are physically healthy, my amazing friends, my mom, a place to live, my talents, my purpose, my desire to help others, God’s love for me and patience with me. As I began to just randomly list big things and small things I was thankful for, I felt the spirit of frustration leaving my mind and emotions. So I continued to list off the random things I was thankful for.

I went home and began arranging my closet as I tried for the fifth time this spring to put away my winter clothes. I started to thank God for all the clothes I had. I began to remember as a little girl growing up in West Africa and going on mission trips to remote villages with my mom, how I didn’t have many dresses. Whatever dress I did have, when I’d see a little girl like me who didn’t have a dress, I’d always ask my mom if I could give her my dress. I ended up with a strawberry shortcake dress my mom made for me. I loved that dress so much I wore it almost daily and my mom would wash it when I slept. I thanked God for all these dresses that now call my closet home. I also thanked God for the heart to give.

As I thanked God for the things I have and the people in my life, I began to remember times in my life when He always came through for me as friend, provider, protector, healer, comforter, peace giver, defender. I remember how he kept me alive through relationships pain, abuse, betrayal. I remember when it felt like I had no one, He reminded me how He was and is my everything. As I began to focus more on His goodness, how awful others had been or will be lost its hold on me. I became overwhelmed by how good God was  rather than how awful others had been. My peace was restored and my mind, heart and focus renewed.