Choosing to be Thankful - Adam LaRoche

With all the chaos of our lives — the going there, coming here, doing this and doing that — I’ve been thinking about the importance of stopping and focusing more on being thankful for my life. I have an amazing wife, really good kids and great friends, and yes, all these relationships take time and effort, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world. I want to be more appreciative of what I’ve been granted, instead of taking these things for granted. 

But this takes a conscious effort. With anything, we can easily get in particular habits. If our habit is to constantly look at tasks that are unimportant in the grand scheme of things, we can find ourselves waking up counting checklists and worrying about deadlines each morning. We dwell on what needs to get done, or what hasn’t been done that needed to be. We easily get fixated on chasing the next box to check off or the next dollar to earn, and it becomes a habit. 

What if instead we made it a habit to pause and look around? Look at what we’ve been given and what we get to do! Think about where you live, the people around you, and the phone you have in your hand that can pretty much accomplish whatever you want it to do at a moment’s notice. 

Naturally, we are selfish people. That is why this habit of being thankful has to be a conscious effort we make. I have not trained myself to be thankful at all times, especially when things aren’t going well. What if, when something difficult happens, I was able to stop and remember all the ways in which God had brought me through in the past, and then chose to be thankful for what was to come?

I remember this thought occurring to me while I was in D.C. playing for the Nationals. I don’t even remember what was happening at the time; it was probably the case that I was 0 for 50 in my at-bats, we had just lost 10 games, and my wife was discouraged with the kids back at home. I was thinking, “Can anything go right?” Then I started replaying scenarios from my past when I was struggling, and God not only brought me through, but showed me how what I considered a curse became a blessing. 

In 2011, I found myself undergoing shoulder surgery in the middle of the season, soon laid up for a long time, unable to play. I remember being so down and discouraged, until I realized I was able to then spend a ton of time with my family, which was very unusual for my summer schedules. I didn’t find myself stressed with travel and training, and when I did return to the field to start rehabbing, I didn’t have to go to meetings or worry about who the pitcher was that day. Instead I could spend a lot of one-on-one time with the guys in the clubhouse. That never would have happened if I was not injured. What I thought was a horrible incident, ended up being a huge blessing. 

By stopping and recognizing what we have been given, knowing that God has a plan for all things — nothing surprises Him — we can make a habit of being thankful. Once we take a step outside of ourselves, we can realize that what we consider a valley may not even be a valley! In reality, I had not lost my health, my job or my family, I had not experienced any real disaster.

There are wars going on, people are being trafficked, and loved ones are being lost every day. God doesn’t want us living in guilt for what He’s blessed us with, but He does want us to position ourselves in a posture of thankfulness at all times. We are to truly appreciate what He’s given us, enjoying it and using these things for the furthering of His Kingdom. 

— Adam LaRoche, former MLB player

Adam LaRoche is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions. Check out Adam’s profile on The Increase: http://theincrease.com/author/adam-laroche/

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