A Life of Thanksgiving
About a year ago I was given a book titled One Thousand Gifts. The author recounted her journey of learning to become more thankful for the smallest blessings. This could be anything from seeing the moon light up the midnight sky to being mesmerized by the bubbles while washing dishes to feeling the warmth of clean clothes fresh from the dryer . The writing was a little…what is the word…different (I really can’t think of a word) than what usually catches my attention. But the purpose of the book stuck with me: we are given countless gifts on a daily basis that go unnoticed.
Given that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day it seems fitting to be reminded of the importance of being thankful. (I vowed I would not blog about holidays but I am breaking this already. I never understood why the nearest holiday was always a topic for sermons. Why do we talk about good fathers only one time a year?) I really do try to find the joy in the little things, the mundane circumstances that we take for granted. Hot coffee first thing in the morning is something that never gets old. There are the usual blessings that we tend to be aware of like family, friends, and material possessions, but think for a moment how many gifts we overlook. When was the last time you thanked God for your liver or kidneys? Most of us do not recognize the importance of regularly praising God for functioning organs until they fail. How about just breathing? Without this ability we are dead, and we never think twice about this gift! What about making a connection with someone or learning a new fact about a friend? How about just making eye contact with a person? Yes, a person, not a picture on Facebook. I am ashamed to admit that I can go through an entire day looking at people and never really seeing them.
Side note: Look people in the eye. Don’t just look at them, see them. It will change your encounters. The routine activities will have more meaning because suddenly you realize there is a soul on the other side of the checkout, there is a soul sitting next to you at the restaurant. See people. Just do it.
Anyway, the point is that God blesses us beyond measure daily. A thankful heart sees the world differently. Thankfulness is a mindset, an attitude. When we are constantly searching for what we can be grateful for we do not have time to focus on what we would change. I want to overflow with thanksgiving. Many of my statements about life have an appearance of thankfulness but there is an underlying dissatisfaction. It is similar to a compliment sandwich (Has anyone heard of this as a breakup strategy? Sorry, another random thought…): I acknowledge the positive, say something I wish was different in life, followed by how thankful I am about whatever the subject is.
God revealed this to me as I began writing this post. My habit of a compliment sandwich, well, really a thankfulness sandwich, became apparent to me. Moving back to Texas has been a bit more difficult than I thought it should have been given that this move was an answer to years of prayers. I really latched onto a few people in and aspects of Florida. Letting go is hard for me. When people ask how we are adjusting to Texas I talk about how great it is to be back, followed by how much I miss Florida, and closing with how thankful we are to be close to family. I know, this may sound like I am taking it to an extreme. I don’t know; maybe I am. I do not at all mean that we shouldn’t miss people or places. I just mean what we dwell on and what we say shapes us. And being thankful for the stage in life you are in is so important.
Think for just a moment of memories you are thankful for in your life. They may be pleasant; they may be difficult circumstances. Time brings clarity. Was that event something you acknowledged in the moment as a blessing? What is happening right now, right this moment, that you are missing and will one day look back on with thankfulness? Being thankful today, for whatever is going on, the mundane, the small things, the bubbles in the sink, the moon in the sky, the clothes from the dryer, will lead to more contentment and a life of thanksgiving. We don’t have time to regret or live in the past when we are thankful for right now. And right now I am thankful to be sitting in my favorite coffee shop, breathing easily, texting an old friend, typing away with no set schedule for the afternoon. I am thankful to live close to family. I am thankful that because of Christ I can live in freedom, that my sins are not counted against me. I am thankful that if all else fails in this life I know where I will spend eternity. And I am thankful that I personally know the One who gives us everything we need for life and godliness.
Live a life that overflows with thankfulness. Today. Right now. In this moment.