I’ve been fairly crabby this week. And anxious. Allen has also been anxious. Lots going on in our home and family to merit this. Definite and possible job changes. Future home changes. Friends with health and emotional challenges. College kids coming home for the summer. The normal stuff that makes up life, but tends to ramp up the crabbiness and the worry.
Last weekend, while meeting with our marriage mentoring couple, I was reminded once again about my strong passion for thankfulness. Sitting at the table, surrounded by French croissants (brought by our amazing baker bride) and cups of tea, I spoke (okay, preached with passion…in other words, “went on a verbal rampage”) about the merits of thankfulness, spewing phrases like “it’s never a wrong decision,” “we actively see and acknowledge God’s hand in our lives,” “it brings healing,” “I am highly committed to it and it’s changed my life,” and on and on. They listened to me with open hearts and wide eyes, jotting down notes in their manuals.
After they left, I sat down at my computer to give myself a good “pat on the back” and re-read all my thankful posts. After all, I am highly committed to it and my blog will prove it to me once again. Well, my “pat on the back” came to an abrupt halt when I opened my website and realized I hadn’t written a “Thankful Thursday” post since the end of November: FIVE MONTHS. Five long months. I tried another avenue for the pat: the daily thankful app on my phone. Surely that would boost my ego and make me feel good about my dedication. What I saw there was sporadic at best, certainly not daily, heart-felt reflections on how I have been blessed (those red notification circles on my phone are not doing their job – LOL). So much for my tireless commitment.
Lest you worry about me plunging headlong into despair (that’s not my modus operandi), I forged ahead and re-read my thankful posts, looking for gentle reminders and the encouragement to pick up this best practice again. Could there be a connection between my crabby and anxious heart and this drop off in thanksgiving? The answer came to me: I’m NOT sure. Life isn’t having the right formula. It just doesn’t work. But as I re-read my posts, I AM sure the gratitude is really important. Here’s why:
- It gives words to the gifts that have been strewn to us by a generous hand and loving heart, treasures from a God who longs to speak His presence into our very souls. We actively seek and remember those gifts. We find out we are not alone on this journey and that there is someone who constantly loves and cares for us. Read more HERE.
- Sharing our thanks with someone opens the door for more relationship. It provides connection in a world of disconnection. It speaks love and kindness into someone’s world where these might be lacking. It is always a good and right decision, something elusive in an ever-changing and complicated world.
- It shouts beauty to a world bombarded with the ugly. It multiplies thanks in my own heart. It is one of those sure-fire, good things in my life. And it is simple, super simple (with all of the formulas out there for changing my crazy life for the better, this one doesn’t require a book to be written or a class to be taken). Read more HERE.
- Thankfulness is one of the environments I can provide for myself that brings healing. No. It’s not magic or formulaic (believe me, I have lived a lifetime of that destructive line of thinking). But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s GOOD. Read more HERE.
- There are “unwrapped gifts and free surprises” straight from the heart of God, just waiting for us if we open our eyes to see them. My life tends to be filled with negativity from all kinds of sources, things that consume me about what’s wrong with the world instead of what’s right. Thankfulness combats that enemy of my soul and soothes it. Read one of my all-time favorite posts HERE to find out more.
- It brings the voices of HOPE and RESTORATION instead of voices of fear, divisiveness and destruction. Many days, I am those voices of hope and restoration. But I also need those voices from others, the voices that reflect the very heart of the God of unity, truth, healing, encouragement, kindness, love, hope, peace, joy, patience, all that is GOOD. Read more HERE.
- It’s a gift from others to me. When someone remembers to say thank you, my heart becomes a little less empty and a lot more full, a little less broken and a lot more healed. It brings unity where there is division, joy in the midst of sorrow, and clarity instead of confusion. Thanksgiving heals. Read about this HERE.
This is what I know so far about my endless journey towards this practice of gratitude. This is why this weekend (note the title TW which stands for Thankful Weekend…I know you were wondering), I am reflecting on my week and sharing these quick thoughts with you. Speaking aloud again about what gifts God has given me:
- A lunch with a friend who, after I made a snarky comment, said to me, “This is why we’re friends. I wish I could live across the street from you.” She validated why she loved me. HUGE (especially for this “words of affirmation” girl).
- A phone call from a long-time friend about what one of my blog posts meant to him. He encouraged me to continue to write. STRAIGHT UP GIFT.
- Another friend called and asked me for my advice about her teenage son. For those of you who have the battle scars of parenting, you get this. All that work is not wasted. Someone else can benefit from my successes and mistakes as a parent. YAY!
- A sleep-over with one of my “brides” who we mentored several years ago. A lazy dinner and a chat about boundaries and marriage and friendship and church and good books to read. BALM TO MY SOUL.
- Sharing communion with my Beautiful Mess girls. Reminding ourselves about the Deep Deep Love of Jesus and the Reckless Love of God. FAVORITE NEW SONGS! Take a few minutes to listen.
- A heart-to-heart talk about struggles and decisions with another friend. Her text to me afterwards reminding me she treasures our friendship. OH MY GOODNESS. LOVE IT.
- Date night with Allen sharing wine and worries over dinner and then taking the time to paint. SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL FOR THIS PARTNER IN HOPE AND HEALING.
As I sit here and take the time to reflect (which I am actually doing as I write this), my heart is gently reminded again why this matters. People matter. Loving them matters. They are some of the greatest gifts I have. God matters. Loving Him matters. Seeing His provision and gifts in my life matters. He actually is THE greatest gift.
Maybe I have just “TENDED” to the best thing this morning. (And I can breathe a prayer that I might just be a little less anxious and crabby.)
I hope you can too.