True Gratitude…Being Grateful in all Circumstances

DSC_0194The day Kenny Taylor walked onto the Village of Hope property, having just been released from jail to serve his pre-sentencing time there, he would have said he was grateful…that he had gratitude.  Being at the Village eight months now, and looking back he can say he really wasn’t grateful, that he didn’t understand true gratitude.  “Sure I was grateful to be out of jail but was I grateful to be here…probably not at first.” Over the months he has realized that his initial gratitude was steeped in selfishness and self preservation.  “I had a lot of other motives in my heart when I first got here.  I’m going to be here and look good for the courts and I’m going to get my sentence reduced and then I’m going to get back with my kids and family.”  Kenny thought he was great, he thought he was everything, a good dad, a good boyfriend but really he wasn’t much of any of that.  Everything was about Kenny, what could he get out of this and how did it affect him, his motives for most of what he did were all about him.  Having surrendered his life to Christ, his mind has been flipped a 180 in regards to gratitude.  And though it has been painful for him to face what truly resides in his heart and the pain he has caused his family, it has been the very means to set him free of his selfishness and to understand true gratitude.  He is learning gratitude in the struggle, not an easy lesson because his initial response was to be ungrateful for what God was putting His finger on.  “To be grateful in the struggle I was going through was really hard, I was doing forgiveness letters to my boys and it brought up a lot of stuff, the things that I did to hurt my family, lies, and I didn’t want to look at it.  It was God trying to say, take a look at this stuff, lets fix it, lets go through this, lets take ownership of it, lets deal with it so it doesn’t happen again.  But me in my selfish heart says no, I don’t want to look at that, it hurts, but no matter how bad it hurts I gotta keep moving forward and do what God tells me to do.  That’s what makes me grateful in the end because I come through it with God, it becomes a period of growth and maturity in myself.”  Kenny’s identity in Christ is his number one thing he is grateful for.  He no longer has to live a life of lies and deceit.  “I’ve gone my whole life fitting in here, fitting in there, trying to be this person and that person.  Today I don’t have to do that.  I’m not meant to be lying, cheating, stealing, hurting.  I’m meant to love people, follow Him, and obey His commands.”  For a man who was once motivated to live for self, he now tries his best to live selflessly in his relationships with others and tries to do good to all people.