One thing that makes it hard to stay grateful is comparing yourself with other people. When you think of it, it’s no small thing to move from January 1st of a year to December 31st of that same year. A lot happens throughout the year. A lot.
To help you reflect and find room for more gratitude to God, we spoke with Toluwalase Soneye and walked through some of what she is grateful for in 2023. Let’s get into it.
Can we meet you?
My name is Toluwalase Soneye, and I am a Veterinary student at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
Can you share a time when your perspective shifted towards gratitude?
I’ve always grown up with parents who taught me to always be grateful for everything that I had. I wouldn’t say there was a time when my perspective shifted. Let me share this story; there was a time I didn’t do as well as I wanted in a particular examination.
I wanted a distinction and when I didn’t get it, I was very upset. I don’t know whether I prayed about it or someone just spoke to me.
The person said, “You’re upset because you scored a 70 something in your exam when there are people who actually failed the course.” And I think hearing that made me understand that firstly, I was being too extra. But then, it also shifted my eyes and attention toward what I have and not what I don’t have.
What specific practices help you stay grateful?
I think one thing everybody does but is a major thing for me is that during my quiet time, I thank God for the previous day and I mentally go through the entire day and mention practical things that I am grateful for. I mention things like “Thank you lord that I wasn’t late to that class” or “Thank you lord that I was able to achieve that”. I just mention the different things that I am grateful for specifically.
Secondly, I have this habit of reviewing my week. While reviewing, I always cast back to how the week was and some of the things that I am grateful for, for the week.
Can you share the top 3 things you’re grateful for in 2023?
The top 3 things are growth, family and friends, and God’s timely provision.
During exams last semester (2023), I had a particularly stressful exam. I got back hungry but I was too tired to cook so I decided to sleep. I remember mumbling randomly before sleeping “God, can you have someone order food for me today”.
Fast forward to about 2 hours later, I woke up to hear my friend talking so I went to her room. And randomly, she was like “Oh my friend sent food for all my friends. Take one”.
It was just a really sweet moment that reminded me about how God cares and hears even my most random requests and can answer them.
This year, I grew in my leadership. I got to lead a life group this year and was a project manager for our creative show.
I’m grateful for my friends and family. My friends prayed over an issue for me and it was resolved. There’s no doubt in my mind that God answered because they prayed intentionally. Shoutout to my friends: Mowa, Ini, and Dami!
My friends prayed over an issue for me and it was resolved. There’s no doubt in my mind that God answered because they prayed intentionally.Lase Soneye
I’m also really grateful for God’s timely provision. A major hallmark of this is that I got a good job this year.
What are some common challenges that make it difficult to stay grateful, and how do you overcome them?
I think one thing that has made it hard to stay grateful is comparing yourself with other people. I think comparison is a major thing for me.
I overcome it by reminding myself of a Bible verse that talks about being grateful in all things. 1st Thessalonians teaches that I should be grateful in all things and I am constantly reminded that, that is the will of God. If I don’t know the will of God, I know that the will of God is for me to be grateful in whatever situation I am in. So, I think that’s the first thing.
Secondly, I think getting to know myself more and understanding that I am on a different path with other people and also getting to know God more opens my eyes. So, I don’t have to struggle or strive. Although, I have to actively try to make myself better. But seeing my former self as a competition is a bigger thing than seeing other people as a competition.
How can we maintain gratitude even when facing difficult circumstances or setbacks?
Firstly, keep your eyes on Jesus.
Another piece of advice I will give is to have a journal. When things are good, have a journal that you can keep it in. So that when things go bad, you can always go back and read your journal and remind yourself of God’s faithfulness through your journal.
And then, keep good friends who turn your eyes back to Jesus in times when you are tired.
By reflecting on what Toluwalase shared in respect to gratitude, we can incorporate gratitude into our daily lives which will also help deepen our relationship with God and bring greater joy and contentment.
Written by Adeola Oke and Doyin Ajala
Adeola and Doyin volunteer with the Content Team at Sycamore Church.
(Blogposts are creative expressions generously provided for Sycamore Church. The ideas and thoughts do not necessarily represent the position of Sycamore Church)