For the past couple of years, I have spent quite a bit of time in November posting every day about something for which I am thankful. This year, I can honestly say that I am thankful for having so much work that I didn’t have time to write a post like that each and every day.
In truth, though, each year I found myself searching for the things that I am thankful for. My thanks are pretty simple. A magnificent God, a loving wife, incredible kids, a job that I love, and enough food and shelter to get through each month. Most importantly, though, I’m thankful not to be one of the 22 veterans in this country who take their own lives each day.
I have suffered from combat-related PTSD for far longer than I have even realized it and soldiers that I served with have succumbed to the pressures associated with it, taking their own lives and leaving loads of questions behind. I often wonder what makes my story different. Why are some of us more willing to suffer through than others?
A big part of this is support. I would not be here now if it were not for my wife’s strength. I firmly believe that. Support can only take you so far, though. You have to have something to live for. My kids gave me that (even though they may very well be the death of me!). Even that, though, has it’s limits. Too often, you hear stories about soldiers with big smiles and beautiful families who end it all. No one ever seems to know why.
At the end of the day, I think it all comes down to your outlook. I think that fighting these demons is, and must be, a daily battle. With all of the bad news out there, it’s too easy to be drug down into the darkness and wage war down there. However, to quote George Bernard Shaw, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
Thankfully, a big part of my job is as a freelance photographer for our local newspaper. This gives me an opportunity to focus on, and to search for, the good news that happens in our community. It’s so easy to find the bad news when you look for it and to talk about how our country is on the decline and at the worst stage in our history, but then you learn about local organizations feeding hundreds of needy families for Thanksgiving and a community rallying around a 6th grader whose life is being cut short by cancer.
These are stories full of hope and, if you choose to be a part of them, can be an opportunity to engage in something bigger than yourself. Does this put an end of the battle? Of course not, but it gives you something to live for, something to fight for, not just something to fight against.
So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for all of the good news out there. I hope that over the coming year, we can share a little more of that and a little less of the bad stuff.
What are you thankful for this year? Leave a comment and share your story!