As I was sitting in church Sunday morning listening to the choir sing “Count Your Blessings,” I felt chill bumps make their way up my arm. It was strange, I thought at first, given that I’ve heard that song about a thousands times, maybe more, and while the words often move me, it has been a long time since they’ve caused that type of reaction. But then I paused to consider the year that is fast fading away now, and I understood.
You see, this has been a year of great joy and immeasurable sorrow, all wrapped into the 11 months known as 2016. It’s been a roller-coaster ride of emotions, ones that on any given day could make the faint of heart question what there actually was to be thankful for.
For days after my dad died in November 2002, I battled that thankfulness question, opting to have the pouty woe-is-me syndrome, thinking being grateful certainly didn’t have to be on my agenda that year. After all, I had lost far more than I had gained.
Then my dearest friend reminded me that in actuality I had far more to be thankful for than my self-absorbed mood was acknowledging. After all, I’d had 40 wonderful years with my daddy and my mom, who had died just one year before; I had a great relationship with both of them unlike so many others less fortunate than myself and I would be able to cherish countless memories of the two of them that were written in the history of my heart. And then there was my own good health, family and friends who had supported me through the difficult back-to-back years of my parents’ deaths and the good health they, too, were enjoying, and tens of thousands of other things, big and small, that God had blessed me with just in that year.
Armed with that realization, I began to count my blessings, naming them one by one, and suddenly it dawned on me just how much there was in which to be grateful.
I’m sure others can say the same, though for so many this has been a year that can only be classified, in a glimpse, as terrible. Think of the families who’ve lost loved ones at the hands of Isis, of the lives yanked away by cancer’s grasp, of those we have loved and lost for countless other reasons. The pain is real, the emptiness palpable, yet through it all there are still blessings that rise out of the ashes of brokenness, urging us to look past the darkness to the light just waiting there for us to see.
In reality, in good times and bad, during days of great joy and even those that brought immeasurable sorrow, there is still something in which to be thankful. I know with certainty what they are in my own life. It is my prayer that everyone reading this column recognizes their own, for those blessings surely exists in each and every life. All we have to do is peer through that darkness rather than let it consume us, taking away the joy that is still just a heartbeat away.
Today as I prepare to sit down to a delicious meal with people I love, I realize that the thankfulness I feel doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the blessings I receive in just one day. For them all, I am truly, truly grateful.
Reach publisher and editor Sherry Matthews at 910-249-4612. Follow her on Twitter @sieditor1960; follow the paper @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.