Be thankful for life even when you don’t understand it

Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

Thanksgiving always becomes a year in review for me as I look back at the events in the news and in my personal life and try to find reasons to give thanks.

Yeah right.

Well at least I try to think of things to be thankful for, but sometimes it’s just as meaningful to not just count your blessings but rather count your so-called setbacks. Often times, it’s these things that didn’t happen or things you wanted but didn’t get that are the greatest blessings. These are the things that are the easiest to overlook and not appreciate.

On the other side of the spectrum there’s the old adage, “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.” Even in these situations, there’s room for thanks.
In my case, I prayed for a new car and got one.

I also got a nice big monthly payment, which soon had me second-guessing my decision to trade in my old vehicle. But instead of looking at it from the viewpoint that I now have less disposable income, I’m spending more time with my daughter in the kitchen because we’re eating at home more. I’m also learning to be more frugal.

It can be easy to be thankful for a pay raise or promotion until the added responsibilities begin to take a toll on you. But even with this heavier burden, you can be thankful, either for realizing that money is overrated and this is not really what you want, or you can look at these added responsibilities as a sign from above that you are capable of doing more than what you give yourself credit.

As far as being thankful for things that didn’t happen, I’m thankful that Hurricane Emily didn’t slam into the Mexican city of Merida while I was there this summer with a group of Eastern New Mexico University students. Merida was supposed to be the eye of the storm, but was spared.

Although we lost a great pope this past year, John Paul II, I’m thankful for the inspiration and courage he showed us in life and death. I’m also thankful that although his death was the center of media attention for weeks, he continued to be a humble example until the end with a simplistic coffin and burial requests.

Although I didn’t meet Mister Right this past year, I’m thankful that I’m still single and not tied down to a Mister Wrong.

I’m also thankful for my family. Not because we’re the Waltons and get along so great all of the time. But because I’m constantly being made aware that we’re all at different stages in our lives, that God has different plans for each person and therefore I hope I’m finally learning not to be so judgmental.

One can be selfish and want someone to do what you want them to do or do what you think they should do — the “I know what’s best for you” syndrome. But I’ve learned over the years that God works in mysterious ways and as my sister Becky reminded me, there were times when we did things we were not proud of, but we learned from them and became better people.

Becky also reminded me there were other times when we thought to ourselves: “What the heck am I doing” or “Why did I do that?’ or “Why did so and so do that?” only to be glad later that we followed our instincts. Sometimes we just have to blindly accept what life dishes out, be thankful for it even if we don’t understand it, and then be really thankful later when it does turn out for the best.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: