October 27, 2014 | My Jottings
I’ve been taking my gratitude journal very seriously these past months. I may not write in it every single day, but it’s always out, always at hand so I can sit down to record in black and white the gifts God bestows on me. I number the things I’m saying thank you to God for too. I’m in the four thousands now, and I know that this spiritual practice is something I will do until I die, or until for some reason, I’m no longer able.
A dear friend asked me recently if I ever gave thanks for something twice and I said yes! I’m sure there are duplicates in amongst the four thousand gifts, because a chickadee at my window feeder doesn’t thrill me once, it thrills me again and again. And if my husband has a calm day in September and I thank God for that, I’m certainly going to thank Him again in October for another good day.
Being thankful for one thing
can lead to gratitude about other things.
A simple example is the way color affects me. I might be sitting in my bedroom chair with my feet up on the ottoman, wrapped in the prayer shawl Sharon dyed and knitted for me, and I might have my gratitude journal open on my lap. I might be sitting there quietly, pondering the ways God has blessed me in that moment, and my eyes might fall on one of my favorite pillows, a decorative, deep cardinal red pillow I sometimes put on my bed when I actually make it. That deep red arrests my eyes and I stare, so happy to see such a color. I might write down in my journal, 3941) thank you for the deep, gorgeous red on that pillow.
And then another thank you comes from that: 3942) You have given me sight today, Lord. Thank you.
And then the very basic senses might come to mind and from the gift of sight I think of the gift of the sense of smell, which I lost years ago and was told by an ENT physician would most certainly never come back, and I might write 3943) thank you that I can smell Lord! Thank you for restoring that to me!
And then the next one comes easily and I might write 3944) the smell of Miriam’s head, Lord! Oh you’ve outdone yourself there! Thank you. Deep, tearful thank you.
And after I ponder the smell of Miriam’s head for a while and think about what a lavish gift she is, I might think about how much her siblings love her already, how she has smiled little smiles for her family, how God has a plan for her precious life already, and so on.
Can you see what I mean by thanks begetting thanks? I sit and I write them down, one after the other, and I believe that each one is from God’s hand, given to me that day, because He loves me and is watching over me. (see James 1:17).
These Chinese lanterns are part of a fall arrangement Sara did in a dark blue Le Creuset pitcher that sits on our dining room table. I look at them every day and give thanks for their bright, unique beauty, and that God lets me see them.
Now, I believe the opposite is true as well. Ingratitude breeds more ingratitude. I have lived this also. And it’s not like I’ve got this thanksgiving thing all nailed down. Life still stuns me with its one-after-the-other hardships and tragedies. There are many times when yet another truly desperate thing seems to be added to my plate and my first inward response is a doubting, cynical, “Really? Seriously? This too? A very ill and increasingly demented husband isn’t enough? X, Y and Z isn’t enough sorrow?” I am sorry to say I have such snarky attitudes but I do. Maybe it’s for that very thing that I am so committed to the spiritual discipline of recording things for which to be grateful. Because I’m often truly blind to God and His ways, and need new lenses put on the eyes of my heart every single day.
And here is a sobering truth and an effective motivation for directing your heart and mind to be grateful every day:
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
The twenty-first verse in the first chapter of Romans tells me what can happen to a person who knows the Lord, but refuses to give Him thanks:
They would become futile in their thinking, and their foolish heart would be darkened.
Shall I add futile thinking and a darkened heart to my life right now? No. I will not do that.
More than the strong warning in Romans 1:21, though, is a desire I have to bring some happiness or joy to the Lord. I have certainly caused Him some disappointment with the way I’ve lived the life He’s given me. I want to bring a smile to His beautiful face. What in the world can we give the One who made and owns everything? We can’t give him a bouquet of flowers or a new puppy or a treasure of gold and jewels, because those are already His.
But we can give Him something that would bring Him pleasure that not many people are willing to do, and that is our hearts of gratitude, pouring out thanks to Him for all He does for us and gives to us each day.
Is it sometimes a difficult thing to record little blessings when huge catastrophes are all around us? Without a doubt. But we can still do it. And it makes a huge difference in our lives. And I believe it matters to God and blesses Him.
I’m also thankful for a little spot on the web to share my thoughts, struggles, dreams and joys, thankful that a few readers take time in their day to stop in and read, thankful for so many of you who have extended the beautiful hand of friendship to me and have prayed for my family.
May God bless your day with a hundred things to record in your gratitude journal,