Years ago when at one of my lowest points, I did the least likely thing: I began filling the pages of a notebook with things I was thankful for.
It was a dark time, and my counselor suggested that regular journaling of thanks would help. Of course, I couldn't see how at the time. But I literally forced myself to sit down and to come up with something. (Incidentally, I'd love to find that old journal now.)
Remarkably, as I put pen to paper, the list grew quickly, filling many pages. Family, friends, flannel pajamas, help in times of trouble, promises of God, the fact that there's always reason to hope, no matter what…sometimes the hardest part about the giving of thanks is just beginning, just starting when you don't feel like it. Then watching the gratitude grow.
In that spirit, will you join me by adding your thanks in the comments below? Perhaps your simple list will be just the beginning, and your journal will beckon. In my book, that would be the best possible outcome: to free up the gratitude you didn't know was there, welling up and overflowing, to the Giver of all good gifts.
- And now, to practice the discipline of the giving of thanks:
#8: Repurposing. My husband had a great idea to find an old wooden door and repurpose it as a headboard for our king-sized bed. It sounded good in theory; but where would we find one? Enter a musty shop filled with castoff doors, old—and sometimes odd— light fixtures and time-past treasures. The door is now sitting on sawhorses in our garage, covered in two coats of chalk paint, just waiting for us to distress and wax it. The shop owner said it came from "The Alamo," an old city business of some sort, torn down and just waiting for a rebirth. We are waiting for a rebirth, too; and the door reminds us that seasons of casting off, of pain and challenge and dying, make way for re-creation, for resurrection, for a fresh start.
#9: The word "magnanimous." I've heard it's definition described this way: "large-hearted." Here's another way of putting it from dictionary.com: "resentfulness or
#10: Hearing God's voice. My friend Heather commented on the last thanksgiving post: "Grateful that God redeems what we believe to be lost, gifts us with what we do not deserve, and graciously right-sizes us time and time again." And I thought about right-sizing, about seeing ourselves and God correctly, and it reminded me of the many times I have sat on my blue couch and prayed: Lord, what do you think of when you think of me? And the gentle Shepherd speaks to me, and upholds me, tucks me in, and finally, raises me up.
#11: Time. I have a natural tendency to regret what my heart views as wasted time or wasted years, years in which looking back, I could have taken a different course. But I am asking God to give me a different view of the time he's given me: to help me see years of infertility and childlessness somehow as tenderizing time, time when all is stripped bare and I am left only with what I can know for sure. To know for sure that my heavenly Father doesn't waste my time; that he is redeeming and loving and somehow giving good gifts that I cannot see. I pray for new grace to begin again to anticipate the future with hope, rather than dwelling in the past.
#12: Books. Once when reading one of Lauren Winner's memoirs, I read that every book is a self-help book. And it made me smile, because books are some of my best friends of all, and they push and shape and challenge and console and expand me in ways that have shaped me into the woman I am today. Lately, it's been books like Resurrection Year by Sheridan Voysey, Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves, Teach Us to Want by Jen Pollock Michel, and Slow Church by Chris Smith and John Pattison. Finally, I'm making a deep dive into Falling Upward by Richard Rohr.
#13: Writing. My writing tends to sift my motives, to give a pulse-check on where I'm at with my Savior, to clarify the path and clear away the brush. And then sometimes it cracks my heart open, expanding and enlarging. Two of those posts this last month have brought unexpected healing; and for this, I give thanks to the God who created us to create. (See A Woman Fully Alive on SheLovesMagazine.com and I Am the Other: On Acknowledging My Disability)
#14: Community. I belong to a writing community called Redbud Writers Guild, and these ladies are a beautiful tribe of helpers, of women who generously give to each other, mentoring along the way. Those who bear witness and encourage and help you to sharpen and strengthen, to fearlessly expand the feminine voice in the culture and the Church. Much of what I've done the last few years would not have been possible without this band of sisters.
*I still believe that gratitude makes room for the gift of his presence, and that it reminds us we are all needy, every one. And that being carried by a generous and gentle Shepherd might actually make our brokenness a gateway to the next gift. Will you join me?*
Come back next Monday for #s 15-21 on the gratitude list, and please know you are invited to add your own giving of thanks.
Your turn: For what are you most grateful on this day?