What I’m Thankful For This Year

I couldn’t wait to get a Fitbit when they came out.  I was convinced that once I got one, I would suddenly become this ridiculously fit, muscular, healthy being. 

Because, you know, watches do that. 

So I was given a very generous gift card to Target…and I went and got my Fitbit.  I wore it for about a week straight.  I was super hip. Counting steps, tracking calories, measuring my heart rate, analyzing sleep patterns…and then the battery died.  I plugged the Fitbit into the charger, and about 4 days later, I saw the thing sitting on my nightstand and thought, “Oh, I should probably wear that.”  So I did.  I put it on and wore it and then a few days later it needed to be charged again, and that’s when the Fitbit became a hassle. I plugged it in, forgot to put it back on, and eventually just stopped using it. 

Have I used it since? Yes.  Consistently? No.  Is it really serving a purpose in my life? Not so much…Would I say I am really grateful for the Fitbit in my life? Nah. I didn’t appreciate the gift because I didn’t use it.  I didn’t use it because I didn’t see the value in it.  Not because the Fitbit isn’t a valuable tool, but because I didn’t use the gift to its fullest potential.  I didn’t put the effort into charging the watch and putting it back on. (Yes, I’m lazy).   But…when you stop and think about it, how often do we do this in life?  How many gifts do we have that we just don’t take advantage of?  How many opportunities do we miss because we just “don’t feel like it”? 

I’ve been pondering this in my heart lately.  I can think of a lot of “things” that I’ve gotten as gifts that I don’t truly appreciate and use.  Maybe because deep down, I know they don’t bring me true happiness.  But at the end of the day, the one thing I am most grateful for in life that brings me joy, frustration, laughter, exhaustion, triumphs, challenges, successes, and ultimately, greater love—is relationships.  Relationships are, to me, the pulse of my life.  Let me explain.

Relationship with God  

There are days when I am so overjoyed and overwhelmed with peace and happiness that all I can do is sit in the chapel and bask in His love.  Or days when I’m so frustrated and stressed that all I can do is call upon God to get me through the day as I beat on the steering wheel while sitting in traffic.  Regardless, my relationship with God is the beginning, the end, and the in between.  If I don’t depend on Him FIRST, I fall.  I don’t forget about God for days at a time and then try Him again, because I KNOW the value in my relationship with God.  I can function without the Fitbit.  I can’t function without God.

Relationship with others

We build relationships for a living. But we often get so caught up in ordering food and inflatables, setting up tables and chairs, and organizing registration forms, that we forget that we are supposed to be actually building relationships.  There are so many days where I just have to turn off my brain, stop worrying about whether the new reader at the high school Mass is going to forget to bow at the altar, and sit down with some teens and talk about what they’re watching on Netflix.  That conversation about Netflix will inevitably turn into something else that gives me a peek into these young peoples’ lives and the things they are passionate about, the things they struggle with, and how I can better serve them and pray for them.  And for that, I am so grateful.  What a blessing that we get to build relationships for a living—and not only that, but relationships that are grounded in Christ!

Relationship with self  

Ahh…..”me” time.  What’s that, right?!  A pedicure, a funny youtube video, or a 10 minute break in front of the Eucharist.  Enjoying time with yourself… I know what you’re thinking.  “I DON’T GET ENOUGH ME TIME!!”  I know, I don’t either.  And for that I am so grateful.  Because when I do get it, I relish it and I thank God for it, and more importantly, I invite Him into it. I’m thankful for relationships.  Everything good and valuable in my ministry and my life somehow revolves back around to the relationships that I have and keep, whether it’s with God, the youth I encounter, or myself.  The beauty of it is that I spend so much time building relationships with God and with others that I see the fruits of it in my relationships with my own friends and family.  I listen more, pray harder, share more openly, and am more open to communication with the people I encounter outside of work.

So when I sit down for turkey this year, I will not be grateful for Fitbits, or Snapchat, or the new iPhone, or for anything that has to be charged with a cord.  I will thank God for blessing me with such an incredible and valuable gift of the opportunity to build authentic, lasting, effective relationships.

Thanksgiving Food for thought:

What are you grateful for? 

What have you “thrown on the nightstand,” so to speak, and forgotten about?

What gifts from God could you be more grateful for and use more fully?

What gifts have you received from doing youth ministry that you are able to benefit from and use in other areas of your life?

What I'm Thankful For This Year – The Most Valuable Gifts

Claire Gallagher

Claire Gallagher is currently the campus minister at St. Mary's Dominican High school in New Orleans, LA. She has 5 years of experience as a parish youth minister and has a passion for relational ministry and empowering young people to be disciples and evangelizers. Claire lives in New Orleans and is working towards her masters in Theology at Notre Dame Seminary. She enjoys teaching Zumba classes and enjoying her beautiful city in her free time.

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