The holidays usher in a thankful attitude for many of us. They symbolize the ending of a year (many would argue 2016 has been an absolutely terrible year) rung in with celebration.

I have always enjoyed the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite festivities to take part in. Growing up, I spent these holidays with family. Some of my best memories were made in St. Louis gathered around my grandparents table. Something about getting up early to help my grandma with the turkey while everyone is still asleep or preparing the potatoes, stuffing, and pies all for the grand finale we’ve all been looking forward to since last November.

This year, however, is different. Although I am spending Thanksgiving with my immediate family, it is not as joyous because I have lost my job. Externally, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I just got a new place, bought a bunch of new stuff for it and was counting on a steady source of income to help to pay for my living as well as Christmas gifts for my loved ones. Internally, it came at the perfect time.

I was burnt out, tired of going to the same job doing the same things, which, frankly, I didn’t enjoy. Enjoying your job as a whole is overrated, and the truth is nobody enjoys their job every single day. But it was perfect timing because I needed to relearn a lesson that I forgot: how to be joyful and grateful despite what is going on externally.

In a world where our worth is computed by our possessions, income, and job, what happens when you don’t have one of those components? Losing my job has forced me to redefine what it means to be successful. If I use society’s definition of success to determine my own, I have failed. I have possessions, but no income and no job.

When we use external or material factors to judge our worth, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. We are allowing ourselves to be swayed by uncontrollable, dynamic, worthless aspects of existence. They give nothing back to us. We think they will cure our happiness so we strive for more, never stopping to appreciate all that we have.

Yeah, having a job is extremely important, without one we can’t survive, and I will get another soon, very soon. But just because I get a job doesn’t mean that it will be my identity. My identity, what makes me happy, what makes me who I am are the people I surround myself with, my loved ones, and my God. Those three things will never change. I will always have people who care about me and who I care about, although the people may change, the fact that there is love to be given and received will never change. My God is always there even when He seems distant, He will never leave me or forsake me. He has a plan for me, a plan to give me a hope and a future.

For these things I am grateful. In these I find my joy.

Published by Mackenzie Winterowd