It’s November. Leaves are piling up on the grass. The wind has chased away every last bit of warmth that October was stubbornly holding on to. The rain clouds change the sky from blue to gray, casting a wet shadow over the whole week.
Assignments are piling up. Finals lie on the distant horizon. Pumpkin spice is making its annual comeback, only to go into extended hibernation in a few weeks.
The only thing getting you through the month is the return of Christmas. You’ve started counting down the days until December 25, and you’ll have that one annoying friend who’s already started playing Christmas music (I’m that guy).
In about a year, one half of the country’s going to be rejoicing, one half’s going to be disappointed, and many people just won’t care. Politics just has that effect on people.
But November isn’t all bad. The one thing the month is most famous for, at least here in the U.S., is Thanksgiving. It would be easy for me to write about being thankful. Some might even call it cliche. But I’m going to do it anyway.
So often, we complain about the little things. “The Wi-Fi is down again. They got my coffee order wrong. My phone’s battery life is terrible. Netflix doesn’t have a certain season of my favorite show.”
These can be annoying, but they’re nothing at which to get mad. They’re what some would call “first world problems.” You should be grateful that you’re in a position to complain about these things.
Then there are complaints that are founded in good reason. “This professor grades too harshly. My roommate stays up too late. This girl doesn’t like me.” In these situations, there are problems that need to be resolved. But don’t let things like these distract you from being thankful.
You have so much to be grateful for. For one, you’re in college! Most of the world will never get to experience that. It’s understandable to be worried about your financial situation, but don’t dwell on it so much that you miss out on living life.
We live in a nation where we can gather together and worship God without fear of losing our jobs or lives. Are Christians being persecuted for their faith here in America? Yes, to an extent, but nothing compared to what our brothers and sisters are going through in other countries. I can pray in a restaurant without worrying about breaking the law.
This is one of the hard things about living in the U.S. We’ve become lazy. It’s easy to be a Christian. For many, Christianity has become more of a ritual than a relationship. We need dramatic examples to break us out of our apathy. So we shouldn’t be surprised when God puts us through tough times. You know I can’t resist putting in an August Burns Red quote, so here’s a line from their song, “Provision:”
You’ve given me this nightmare to wake me up. You say, ‘Take pride in the provision.’ You’ve given me more than enough.
The hard times will test our faith, but if we survive them, we will come out stronger. The trials also help us appreciate the good times and the ways God has provided for us.
On a lighter note, we should also be thankful for the people that we meet. One of my favorite parts about Cedarville is the relationships that I’ve formed and cultivated. During my years here, I’ve met some pretty remarkable individuals, people who have had a positive impact on my life. I have grown because of their presence in my life.
You’re not going to get along with everyone. College is a petri dish for drama. When you put two strangers into a room and tell them they have to live with each other for eight months in close quarters surrounded by dozens of other strangers, there’s bound to be some conflict.
So don’t take your friends for granted. As a senior, I’m struggling with the fact that in several months, I’ll have to part with the friends that I’ve come to know over the past four years. I’m thankful for the times we’ve shared, and as graduation ticks ever closer, I grow even more thankful.
It takes humility to thank people, partly because it’s so easy to look at our success and think, I did this by myself. Look back at the path that took you to where you currently are.
I arrived at Cedarville an awkward, undecided freshman who had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. God allowed me to meet people who helped me on my path. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know if I would be where I am today, an awkward senior journalism major.
So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those people. Hopefully, they read this. But if they don’t, and you know them, could you tell them about this? It’d mean a lot to me (and to them).
Thank you, Louise Grandouiller, for teaching me that writing isn’t so bad, and for helping me find out that I’m kind of good at it. Dr. Deb Haffey, thanks for helping me tackle the art of public speaking. Even though you’ve retired, you continue to influence my life today. Thank you, Dr. Baker, for introducing me to journalism. Thanks, Ms. Dufresne, for advising me during my two-year search for a major. Nellie Sullivan, thank you for helping me discover my love for poetry. Thank you, Kirk Martin and John McGillivray, as well as the other coaches, but you two in particular. You guys make my job more fun.
Who are you grateful for? A professor? An RA? A custodial worker? Let them know you’re thankful for them. Email them, or tell them in person. Or pen a thoughtul letter on an actual sheet of paper. The art of the handwritten note has been lost in this world of texting and social media.
Never underestimate the power of a little “thank you.” It could go a long way to brighten someone’s day.
Jonathan Gallardo is a senior journalism major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys creative writing, quoting Lord of the Rings, and listening to Christmas music in November.
Tell Jonathan what you would like him to write about. Send your questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cedars staff shared what they are thankful for in this month’s Ministry Moment.
Psalm 107:1 (ESV) “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
“I‘m thankful for my wonderful family and friends who are a continual blessing in my life. Also, for herbal tea and good books that keep me sane during the chaos that is college.” – Emily Day
“I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness in my life as he has grown me and challenged me this semester. I’m also thankful for my faithful friends at Cedarville that encourage me every day.” – Kjersti Fry
“I’m thankful for the salvation I have in Jesus Christ. I’m also thankful for the family God has blessed me with.” – Josh Burris
“I am thankful for the unique passions that God has given each and every one of us. I am thankful for more than one place that feels like home and love having people to come ‘home’ to.” – Amy Radwanski
“I’m thankful for friends who listen, a family who loves and a God who provides. I’m also grateful for Netflix, senioritis, challenges and friendship that endures great distances.” – Anna Dembowski
“I’m thankful for free samples at grocery stores and for waterproof leather boots. I’m also thankful for my baby brother Eli and the new life he brings to my family.” – Grace Countryman
“I’m thankful for the professors in the creative writing minor for teaching me how to be a better writer and for helping me fall in love with the art of writing.” – Jon Gallardo
“I’m thankful for my mom, for the opportunity to attend a quality Christ-centered university, and for Twenty One Pilots’ music.” – Jen Taggart
“I’m thankful for my family and friends who are always there for me and who encourage me in pursuing God’s calling for my life.” – Victoria Boward