Gratitude as defined by the dictionary is the quality of being grateful or thankful. Regardless of the challenges and obstacles we face, everyone has something to be thankful for. Still, I’m always inspired when those in the greatest need of assistance—such as parents in developing countries struggling to keep their families intact—demonstrate the greatest capacity for gratitude. Whether it’s having difficulty putting food on the table, affording the medicine their children desperately need, or being able to send their children to school in hopes of ending the cycle of poverty, the genuine thankfulness such families exhibit puts into perspective how truly fortunate we are in the United States and why, even though it sounds cliché, we should count our blessings every night.
As the holiday season kicks off and many of us gather with loved ones, I’d like to share the following thoughts of gratitude from our “family members” and “friends”—I hope that you too will find inspiration in their thoughts. But first, I would remind each of us to be grateful to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for the ultimate sacrifice He made for us.
I am an optimist. I see almost every difficulty as an opportunity to grow. I want to be the best person I can be, and the only way to do that is by challenging myself. No one improves his character by staying in his comfort zone. People must venture out and take some risks in order to learn new life lessons, even if those chances are sometimes forced upon us.
Foster care was one such difficulty in my life. The transition from living with my abusive mother to foster care was tough, but I came out of it a much more confident individual. My amazing foster care family showed me what it was like to be ‘normal.’ They taught me the simple enjoyment of dancing in the living room, talking at the dinner table even after everyone’s done eating, and Sunday dinners with chatty aunts and uncles. They offered me a whole new world. Foster care helped me find the real me.
—written by Ann, 19 years old - 3 years in foster care
So many youth have been treated like a number by the foster care system. It’s been so beautiful to see them blossom in the context of relationships. I am grateful to my youth for being resilient and brave enough to show me who they are after experiencing the feeling of not being seen or heard. Each individual has so much to offer and I am inspired and blessed by them.
– Erin, Case Manager, Independent Living
Our youth have so often been labeled ‘at-risk’, but in fact they are more resilient than at-risk. Each day I am able to see resilience radiate from different youth and have been privileged to help youth see who God created them to be rather than what others have labeled them.
– Justin, Supervisor, Youth Services Department