Tomorrow most of us will gather together with friends and family, to reflect on the blessings we share and the gifts we’ve been given. A big bird will no doubt light on our tables and disappear in a matter of minutes as we celebrate the season and those in our presence. Hopefully both our plates and our hearts will be full. Maybe those around your table will reflect on their many blessings. (I love that part)
In recent years, many have embraced the tradition of identifying a “word of the year,” a word to be mindful of in the year ahead. I, for one, have never been able to settle on anything other than “Gratitude.” It has, for many years, been the word that I hope most reflects the life I live. Hence, I am officially claiming it as my LIFE word.
Because, there is much to be grateful for. In the midst of the sorrows and trials of this life, it would be easy to succumb to despair. I feel ya. The news of the day wears me right out. There’s too much cancer and depression and terrorism and abuse and pain all aoround us.
But, happiness, I believe, is largely dependent on our ability to give thanks for the good, in spite of the bad.
Many years ago, the week after Christmas and before New Years, the husband and I had a little spat that morphed into a pity party with a guest list of one. While he watched a football game downstairs, I made the decision to wash windows in our upstairs bedrooms. The recent rains and winds had left them clouded with grime and I deemed it a good day to remedy the situation with a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels.
I worked non-stop for an hour or so and was pleased as punch with the outcome until my husband responded that he would have greatly preferred that I had begun taking down our dead and drying fire hazard of a Christmas tree in the living room instead of dousing upstairs windows. You know, the ones no one but the two of us would likely see. Gracious and understanding wife that I was/am, I accelerated from humble servant to prideful shrew in nothing flat.
I retreated upstair in a rage, livid and astounded at his lack of appreciation for my hard work. (must I remind you that he was lounging in front of his big screen while I toiled?) Stewing in self-pity, (I confess I even shed a tear or two) I stomped around a bit and then sat down at my desk with a legal pad and pen in hand and set about to write the proverbial pros and cons list, except instead of pros and cons, there were two columns: one listing the things that drive me crazy (and not in a good way) about this man. The other was to be a list of all the things I appreciated about him.
You know how this story ends, do you not? List A was written in bold angry letters and was relatively short. An hour or so later, List B was long and still unfinished. As I put down my pen, I thanked God for this man I had been so angry with, for He had reminded me that this was the same man who had brought so much good to my life.
Our patient God used this simple exercise to remind me that my blessings are far greater than are the trials, irritations and frustrations that often blind me to the good gifts He has given me. While I acknowledge that many of the roadblocks in life aren’t this small and inconsequential, for the most part, they do all pale in comparison to the bounty I have received and enjoy. What makes the difference is which list I choose to focus on.
So, that day was a marker in my life– a day I look back on as a defining moment. A day when I chose to be grateful for what I have and to focus on the good, vs, bemoaning what is less than ideal and far from perfect. It was the day I chose to be intentional about where I focus. At this season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded again, that to be grateful is to be happy.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious– the best not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies. ” -the Apostle, Paul, (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message)
Today we all have a choice to make. Which list are you focusing on? I would venture to say that most of us have enough of all the things we need. Today, I wish you a grateful heart.
Happiest of Thanksgivings my dear readers. You are loved!