As I got in my car to leave for work one day more than 15 years ago my mood was dark. Very dark. I wanted to quit my job, but it felt like I had no options. That was the worse part. Every scenario that I could imagine ended in a worse circumstance than I already had. I was stuck.
I pulled out of the driveway to begin my 35 minute commute. About a mile down the road I started doing something that would change my life.
I am in the third week of a year long challenge. Every day my goal is to reach a minimum 20,000 steps. No breaks. It’s called the 20k One Year Step Challenge. I’m posting weekly updates on this blog and daily updates on Facebook and Instagram. Those updates also include a second component. This is the story of how that day became more than just an ordinary, forgettable day.
I work at a radio station. I’ve been there for 32 years. This was the job I wanted to quit during that dark season of life. A couple years earlier my bosses made a decision to move me off the morning show into a different shift. Doing the morning show was a job I loved and it was the only thing I’d ever wanted to do. It was also my identity. I didn’t handle this decision well. Outwardly, I was fine, but inwardly my emotions were churning up bad stuff.
As I was driving to work that day I knew something had to change other than my job. There was a lot of good stuff happening in my life. I had a great wife, six beautiful kids, and a pretty good work situation despite what I was feeling.
Almost in exasperation, I started to thank God. At least it would take my mind off this foul mood. I started with my family and then moved on to my friends. I thanked God for my job and the people I worked with. And, I kept going for the entire 35 minute drive. By the time I pulled in to the station parking lot I was expressing thanks for seemingly innocuous things like the lines dividing the parking spaces. Think about how disorganized that lot would be without them!
But, the best part of that commute was my mood and attitude as I walked into the building. It was completely changed. I did the same thing the next morning, and the next, and for many days following. It became the turnaround my emotions needed. I love my job today and the people I work with. I can’t imagine how things would be different if not for that one commute.
Over the years I’ve drifted from that focus of gratitude. That’s why I’ve added a second component to my 20k One Year Step Challenge. Every day while I’m walking I’m also looking for things to be grateful for. I’m especially trying to be aware of the small things I might typically overlook…like lines in a parking lot.
The Bible teaches us to be thankful in all things which is not an easy concept. But, you know what? Life is rarely easy and sometimes it feels nearly impossible. Few things better equip us to handle life’s valleys than a heart that is both strong and grateful.
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