Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares how some advice from a friend caused her to see her past and present in a different light and set her on a path of deeper gratitude for the future.

Thinking of the future has always brought me a bit of anxiety. It usually reminds me of the need to plan for every possible thing that could come up, which is (obviously) impossible to do. One day, a friend gave me some advice that really left an impression on me. She told me it might be helpful to write a letter to the high school me. What would I say to her? What advice would I give her?

I came to an amazing realization. Other than a couple of small things, there isn’t anything I would tell high school Aubrey to do differently. In fact, I would tell her to continue exactly on the path she is on.

When I look back on my high school and college goals, I realize that as a Franciscan lay missioner serving in Bolivia, I have everything that I prayed about and asked for. God brought about the exact things that I hoped for and dreamed about.

I don’t give God nearly enough thanks as I should. You often hear about the blessings that come about through unanswered prayers, but what about the prayers that have been answered?

I need to spend more time thanking God for what I actually have, instead of reminding Him of what I don’t have and what I’d like next.

So while I’ve been anxiously wondering what the future holds, what my next step will be, and if I’ll ever really be somebody, I’ve been blind to the blessings right in front of me. I’ve been blind to the kingdom of God that is present here on Earth.

I’ve mentioned before that every now and then, I feel a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) start to creep up. It takes hold of me and whispers that I should’ve started pursuing a career after college, or at least gone immediately to work. But I came across an incredibly beautiful passage in Thomas Merton’s “No Man is an Island” that spoke to me. He says:

“Perhaps if I only realized that I do not admire what everyone seems to admire, I would really begin to live after all. I would be liberated from the painful duty of saying what I really do not think and of acting in a way that betrays God’s truth and the integrity of my own soul….Why do we waste our time doing things which, if we only stopped to think about them, are just the opposite of what we were made for?”

Why, indeed?

I am resolved to put an end to this FOMO that keeps resurfacing at the most inopportune times. Instead, I am going to work towards recognizing the daily blessings that are heaped on me and give thanks for them.

Reflection Questions: Do you turn to God during the good times as well as the difficult ones? Do you give him thanks for the blessings in your life?