Happy Thanksgiving. It may sound odd, but I am extra thankful this year.
While dealing with the global pandemic, I have become more attentive to my faith, my family, my friends and my freedoms.
At the start of March, I learned of my exposure at a national conservative conference to someone who had tested positive for coronavirus. I was frustrated with the prospect of being stuck in self-quarantine for 14 days.
Over time, however, it gave me time to place a renewed focus on my devotional and scripture reading time each morning. I carved out more time for praying to God each day, too.
As David declared in Psalm 118:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” For help renewing my faith, I am thankful.
My own self-quarantine, followed by shut-downs all across the country, provided an excellent opportunity for me to reconnect with my family and friends. Since my father died in 2018, I check in with my mother often, but since the pandemic, I try to connect with her once or twice a day.
Mom is in her 80s and is a cancer survivor, so we got her to limit her moves to the doctor’s office and our backyard. She has not physically been to the store or church since March.
Instead, we set her up to watch church services on television. She can also listen in to Bible study each week on Zoom. And my brother, my sons, or I get her groceries and drop them off at her home. She is able to get out and walk around her complex and along the Fox River. The pandemic has been a good reminder to check in with her.
Tonette and I talk with our adult sons typically several times a day. But with the pandemic, we have been forced to think of different ways to be together. We do a great deal more walks and outdoor adventures. We also found ways to play games, watch the NFL draft and communicate online.
We try to do more to communicate with my brother and his family, too. Similarly, we reached out to check in with other family members. We had a few picnics where each household sits in their corner of the yard with their own food, yet we are still able to communicate and share each other’s company. For renewing our bonds with family, I am thankful.
Similar patterns are emerging with friends. Tonette and I met five other couples when all of our children were in elementary school many years ago. We stayed friends over the years, and that friendship has been invaluable during the pandemic.
Early on, we started with a weekly Zoom session where we would share a drink and ask about how each of our friends was doing. Like many others, a number of friends were laid off or lost their jobs completely, while others had to dramatically alter their work.
We also carved out new times to connect and walk with friends. We found time to go out on the water and swim with friends. And we shared distanced campfires. We had to be creative, but it has worked out well. For renewing our bonds with friends, I am thankful.
The past eight or nine months have also made me thankful for my freedoms. And even more passionate about defending them.
We should be thankful that God has so blessed us to live in this wonderful country. And we should remember that it is our job to defend our God-given freedoms here in America.
While many of us are frustrated that we cannot meet in person at our church or other places of worship during the pandemic, many people around the world are permanently blocked from worship, persecuted for their beliefs, or even sentenced to death for practicing their faith. For the freedom of religion in America, I am thankful.
While many of us are upset with the efforts of big tech to block or restrict many of our views on social media, many people around the world are blocked by their government from speaking out, persecuted for sharing their beliefs, or even sentenced to death for publicly declaring their opposition to their country’s government. For the freedom of speech, I am thankful.
While many of us were opposed to the actions of the government to shut down the economy, many in the world live in places where the government controls all of the means of commerce and production, where entrepreneurs are not welcome, and where state-run economies have left the people impoverished for generations. For free enterprise, I am thankful.
For the freedoms endowed by our Creator, defined by the U.S. Constitution and defended by our men and women in uniform, I am thankful. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @ScottWalker.
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