Don't forget to be thankful - Joel Hall

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday of the year. In addition to being a time for families and friends to catch up, and to gorge themselves into food-induced comas, it is also a time for reflecting on God's grace and the good things He has provided for us.

While I have a plethora of things to be thankful for, I struggled when writing this column because this year has probably been the most difficult one for me in recent memory. I've been sick more times than I can remember. Without going into too many details, some of my health problems this year have really brought me to my knees at times.

My trusty 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis, or the "Land Boat," as I like to call it, is probably in its final days. The car, which has faithfully taken me to all my assignments since coming to the Clayton News Daily, is starting to shut down in inconvenient places (in front of Dobbins Air Force Base, on Freedom Parkway, on Briarcliff Road).

I could once make it to the Gwinnett Arena without worrying about the check engine light coming, but now it barely makes it from Jonesboro to Lovejoy and back without getting testy. The lack of money to pay for the repairs means I'll most likely have to drive it until the wheels literally fall off.

Aside from the material things, I came close to losing my brother a couple months ago. A mugging left him with a punctured lung among other serious injuries. Fortunately, he pulled through and the three culprits were arrested and charged, accordingly.

This year -- from my finances, to my health, to my family -- everything that defines my earthly existence has come under attack, and I've found myself walking around with a lot of anger because of it.

Occasionally, when I am unable to make it to my own church, I stay home and watch Dr. Charles Stanley on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Recently, one of his sermons touched on the topic of anger. In a series of sermons, Stanley talked about "the consequences of anger." Anger is one of those natural feelings people have when they feel slighted, wronged, or taken advantage of.

I consider myself to be a pretty forgiving person, but everybody has that breaking point where they say, "What did I do to deserve this?" Stanley points out that there are many consequences for holding onto grudges. Holding onto anger can take a dire toll on our health and personal relationships. It can make people unproductive and destructive, but most of all, it makes people forget why they should be thankful.

While I haven't been as healthy as I want to be, I know that I have family members who would take off work, fly across the country, and give me the clothes off their back, just to make sure I am OK. If anything were to happen to me, I know that I am not alone.

While I may not drive the kind of car I want to drive right now, I have the education and intelligence to open doors that are closed to many people. I may not be where I want to be in life at this time, but at least the potential is there. While I may have almost lost my brother this year, he is still here and I was able to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving.

Anger can be a blinding, debilitating emotion, if left unchecked. I came very close to letting it ruin my holidays, but I am glad I was reminded that anger is relative to how constructively we deal with the struggles we are all presented in life.

This holiday season, I urge people to let go of any anger and resentment, as that is an essential part of being thankful, which is really what the holidays are all about.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.