Last fall, my friend Mckenna began a “Gratitude Challenge” on Instagram. Each night she would post a picture on her Instagram Story with a few things she was thankful for that day. The challenge was that each night, she would reflect on the “big things” and the “little things” that happened throughout her day and how she saw God working that day.
After Thanksgiving, I took the challenge and began to do the same: posting a photo every night with the things I was grateful for. It was a simple thing, taking no more than five minutes each night to reflect on my day and thank God for what happened that day, but I quickly noticed a change in myself.
Here's an example of one of Morgan's "Thankfulness" posts on her Instagram story:
Throughout the day, I became more aware of things I was thankful for. I focused more on the positives and less on the negatives of that day. I saw God’s hand more in even the smallest of things that day. It was like walking through the day with a whole new perspective.
As a soccer player and athlete my whole life, being grateful in all circumstances has not always been the easiest thing. Sure, it’s easy to be grateful when things are going well; when you are playing your best and your team is winning games and coaches love you. However, being grateful when things don’t go your way is another story. It is far easier to be ungrateful for playing time, coaches, teammates, losses, and conditioning, and all the hard things that comes with being an athlete, rather than being grateful in those tough times.
My college soccer career has been a bit of both; I have had lots of highs but it has also been marked by hard seasons where I had injuries and did not perform as well. I had days where the last thing I wanted to do was play soccer. In those times where I was losing, injured, or on the bench, I found it much harder to praise God and be grateful.
But what I've found, is shifting your perspective to one of gratitude will transform your life.
Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. Not just, “give thanks when things are going well”. Not just “be grateful sometimes”. But rather in all that you do, do it to bring God glory. And while you are doing it, give thanks.
When we begin to view life through the lens of gratitude, we will begin to see God’s hand at work. As an athlete, we not only have the opportunity to be a light to our teammates, but we can also have a far better athletic career when our happiness is not defined by performance but rather is enjoyed as a gift from God.
I want to encourage all of us to begin a journey of gratitude in our day-to-day life. Start with something small, like writing down 1 or 2 things each day that you are thankful for, and watch your gratitude overflow into all parts of your life. While playing the sport you love, take a moment during each practice or game to pause and thank God for the gifts He has given you.
Hi I'm Morgan Pearce! I'm currently a senior Psych major at Point Loma Nazarene University and just finished up my last season of soccer! I love the mountains, soccer, and baking up healthy treats. After graduation, I will be nannying abroad for the summer before moving home and working in San Francisco. I hope one day to run a nonprofit involving soccer and education!