Today is our sixth anniversary of moving to the literal other side of the world. I never really wanted to live overseas growing up and yet, well, here we are! Things haven’t exactly worked out how we might have hoped or expected.
There has been rejection, financial difficulty, disappointment, confusion, isolation, and a whole host of other challenges.
There are 60 plus references throughout the Bible where the phrase “But God” appears. Noah might have felt forgotten, “But God remembered” him (Gen 8:1); Joseph was sold as a slave “But God was with him” (Acts 7:9); Others meant it for evil, “but God” meant it for good (Gen 50:20). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us. . . made us alive. . .” (Eph 2:4-5 ESV).
Yep, things are not what we thought they would be. But God.
What I didn’t see coming in these last six years was getting certified as a Life Coach and NLP Practitioner, owning a business, co-owning another business and ministry with a friend where we just saw 60+ women gather in person for the first time and experience hope and healing. I didn’t anticipate watching Dan become a superstar referee. There have certainly been good things in amongst the hard. The weather (mostly – ha!), some cool holidays, getting involved with a fancy-pants TV production, preaching, seeing the ocean almost every day. . .
Choosing to focus on the good and practicing gratitude has a profound impact on our brains. Positive psychology has shown that cultivating gratitude increases our overall well-being, reduces stress, and even improves our physical health. When we consistently choose to see the positives and give thanks, our brains release dopamine and serotonin, often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitters. This not only boosts our mood but also rewires our brains to be more resilient in the face of challenges.
In essence, by following what God has told us all along, that we should give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), we are not only being obedient, but we’re also enhancing our mental and emotional well-being.
Being in a new, and often uncomfortable, place has allowed me to see God at work in ways I would never have anticipated. Today has been a strange day with ‘all the feels’, but it’s also been a reminder that there’s always something to celebrate and be thankful for.
So whatever is going on in your world right now, take a moment to think of three things you can be thankful for. Thank God, and carry on!