Your Focus Determines Your Gratitude
"Tanika, how can you say that 2016 was an amazing year when the ONE thing you were praying for did not happen?"
A few people asked me this question when I mentioned how incredible 2016 has been to my husband and I. Now, don't get me wrong. We encountered quite a few disappointments ranging from 12 negative pregnancy tests, discovering that my fallopian tubes were blocked, a loss of income within our household, frustration with the journey to parenthood, loss of people we thought were friends, betrayal, being placed on a journey to find a new church home, and more that isn't even worth talking about.
But the joys of 2016 greatly outweighed the disappointments! First and foremost, I achieved one of my biggest goals for the year - I wrote and published my first book, Miscarried Joy: Moving Beyond Incredible Pain to Extraordinary Faith. Writing a book was a dream God placed in my heart a long time ago, but I never fathomed that such a difficult journey would lead to such a beautiful destination. Isn't it surreal how God will take the pain we experience and turn it into the purpose for which He placed in us the day we were born? Miscarried Joy has provided me with the amazing opportunity to reach God's people with a message that may be healing and encouraging for them. I don't take this assignment lightly and I feel privileged that God has chosen to use me as a vessel in this area. This alone made 2016 an epic year!
2016 taught me a huge lesson that I want to share with you all - Where you choose to focus determines the amount of gratitude you will show to God and to others.
There were 366 days in 2016. If I had chosen to focus on the 12 days that resulted in a negative pregnancy test, I would have summed up 2016 as a disappointing year. If I had chosen to focus on the friendships that ended, I could have said 2016 was the year of "loss relationships." If my husband and I had chosen to be upset about the news of losing one of our incomes, 2016 could have been a year of financial loss for us. But instead we chose to focus on what God has done and is doing in our lives. We chose to show gratitude for the blessings He has bestowed on us, the grace He has extended to us and the strength He has given us in the midst of this difficult journey.
In 2016 we were tremendously blessed with spiritual parents and new friends (nope, family) through divine connections. My husband was blessed with the career opportunity he has been praying about for the past 2 years. 2016 blessed us with a goddaughter, a godson, health, financial blessings, new streams of income and God revealed things to us that will prepare us for the next season in our lives. These are the defining moments of 2016 because these are the moments we choose to focus on the most. We made the choice to not to be discouraged even when it was the easier path to take.
"Discouragement is often the emotional response to the sufferings we experience in our lives. It is normal but we must be careful to not allow this debilitating emotion to get the very best of us. Being discouraged is a trick of the enemy. If Satan can keep our minds focused on what God has not done, we won't focus our faith or stand firm on what we are asking God to do. A miracle won't happen in our future if we are still concerned about our present circumstances." (an excerpt from Miscarried Joy)
Yes, we have entered into a new year, but if we don't have new attitudes and new actions, our past will be repeated. I encourage you to focus on the purpose instead of the pain. Focus on the present instead of the past. Focus on what God has done instead of what He hasn't given you yet. Focus on your life instead of comparing it to others. Where you place your focus is what will grow in your life. If you think 2016 was a horrible year, I want to encourage you to take one last reflection on it. Shift your mindset from focusing on the losses, the disappointments and the frustrations. Instead, make the decision to allow the good to outweigh the bad. At the very least, God kept you because you are reading this blog post!
Cheers to a happy, fulfilled, purposeful and blessed 2017! May the deepest desires of your heart begin to manifest this year. May it be a New Year filled with New Joy!