This past weekend, my husband and I were invited to attend a ball! Yes, that’s right, a ball. We were excited to attend an event that was outside our “normal.” Really, just getting to go out was great. This is my husband’s busy time at work, so a night out (and a FREE one at that!) was exactly what we needed.
But as we drove around to find a parking spot, we drove past people living in homelessness. I realized that something had changed within me – I was heart broken that people had paid thousands of dollars to attend this function tonight. Yet, right here were people – left forgotten, broken, and alone. Walking into the ball, I was struck with the extravagance of it all. It was beautiful, but it was too much.
Please know, I am not against beautiful events or parties. I am not against having a nice home or nice things. I enjoy all of those things, and I think that is okay. I am, however, struck by the extreme differences and saddened that if some of this money was given to organizations focused on helping people, the world could be a different, better place. And really, it should be.
ONE THOUSAND GIFTS
Earlier that day, I had been reading from Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts, about thankfulness. She recounted how living in thankfulness had begun to cultivate a life of trust. A life without constant worry and fear; because we spend time remembering, recounting God’s prior faithfulness.
I had realized that this was also true in me. I have found freedom from my fears, my parental worries. And when I forget, I return to the feet of Jesus and ask Him to help me leave these bags at His feet. I return to my list of thankfulness, and I try again. I have also found contentment. Happiness with what I have, and truly seeing the fullness of it all.
Gratitude had made the ball, a little less fun. But it also gave me a heart for the needy, a more Christ-like heart. It is helping to erase my sense of ME. My selfishness. (I say helping, because, honestly, I am selfish. Like really selfish. I think about myself, my well-being, a lot. And I whine about how my needs or expectations aren’t being met…a lot. It is an area that is still being refined. An area I continue to pray for refinement in.) Gratitude is showing me others and their needs more clearly.
GOD IS CHASING ME
Sunday, the pastor of my church preached an amazing message about Gratitude and Forgiveness (seriously, if you have time, I would encourage you to listen to it here). He spoke about gratitude increasing and this causing entitlement to decrease. I just sat there, shouting, “YES! I get it!” Then this week, my Instagram feed has been full of people sharing thoughts about this idea of thankfulness.
So here I am. Hands in the air, surrendering. I am thankful. And, yes, I will share about my walk with THANKFULNESS.
MY THANKFULNESS LIST
At the beginning of the year, I decided to begin my list of thankfulness. Okay, actually, I didn’t start it until the end of January. I thought it was a silly idea. I thought I was thankful. I thought I could just remind myself to be thankful and it would be the same thing.
But as I continued to read One Thousand Gifts, I began to understand the importance of having a list, a written record. So I started a journal, and I slowly caught up for the days I missed. Some days are easy to complete my 3 items of thankfulness. Those are the beautiful, happy days, where there were only a few arguments (because really, there are 4 of them. They can’t be perfect!).
1. Goose’s serving heart. Giving up her chair for her brother.
2. My boys playing a lego game…together.
3. Snuggles on the couch.
4. Little lips calling me, “Mommy.”
But then there are days where I stare at my journal and I cannot think of one thing I am thankful for. I know that sounds crazy. I mean, there are things all around me to be thankful for. But I have chosen to be intentional about the record I am keeping. I do not want to repeat items and I do not want to account for something that I am not feeling thankful for.
I made a decision, a promise, to do this, to document my thanks. So I sit, I think, and I wait. I read my Bible to help me see. Some days it helps, others it does not. I still don’t see. So I wait some more. I drink some coffee. And there it is.
5. The smell of my coffee.
Yes, it is a little silly. Yes, it is a small thing, but I am thankful for it, and I am one step closer.
Each day, I have been able to stick to my decision, my resolve to document 3 things I am thankful for. They may be small things or they may be bigger things:
6. Man-Child not breaking anything when his shoelace got stuck in his bicycle pedal and he fell.
A THANKFUL HEART
This list making has proven life changing. It has changed the way I look at my life, at the ups and the downs. It has changed how I see God. He promises good, and I cling to that promise. I trust Him to love me. I know Him to be faithful.
I love Psalm 69:13 –
But as for me, my prayer is to you. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
In His love, this abundant and full love, He will answer me. It may not look the way I would like, the way I expected. It may not be on my time frame. But I have seen His faithfulness, I have been writing it on my heart each and every day. And so I will wait. And when I forget, when I get impatient and frustrated that life isn’t turning out how I expected, how I wanted it to – I come back. Here, to thankfulness. And I start again. And He guides me onward, never leaving me (Psalm 73:23-24).
7. Boy-Child’s love of flowers on the counter.
Will you join me in making your own Thankfulness List? Write 3 things you are thankful for each day. And be ready. Ready to have your views, your world, and your understanding of who God is completely transformed.
Here are a few of my recent entries on my Thankfulness List:
224. Call with a friend. Reaffirming, hearing, knowing me, and speaking truth to me. Reminding me who I am, the mother I am, and encouraging me.
230. Hats sitting in trees. Man-Child lost his hat (his second lost hat this winter season) and as I drove home after dropping him and his siblings off at school, I saw his hat. Sitting in the tree by the bus stop. 233. Getting to take a shower!
251. New friends and a growing community!
Thankfulness has shown me the abundance in my life. And it isn’t money or possessions. I have found an abundance of community. Of grace. Of courage. Of beauty. And of tears. Beautiful, meaningful tears.