I have so very much in my life to be thankful for. It would take hours to list off all the ways God has blessed me; all those tangible little things I’ve been given to enjoy in this life. And it would take even longer – eternity even – for me to really wrap my mind around the big things; the really, really important things that I have been inexplicably and undeservedly granted.
And yet I spend most of my days and hours and energy fighting those everyday battles (mostly meaningless) while my big beautiful blessings swirl, generally unnoticed, around me.
Thanksgiving is coming and it is no surprise that there is much talk about giving thanks. This time of year, the topic of thankfulness dominates the media, commercial marketing, and is even being taught from the pulpit of our local churches. It is a good thing to focus on, to remind ourselves of. It just seems like a bad thing that we seemingly need a holiday to do it. I don’t mean to be harsh, but sometimes I feel like we live in a country that lacks nothing but the gratitude of its own people. Would you agree?
I have this saying I have been using a lot. When I am describing how fantastically good something is (usually food) to someone else, I will often say for example, “Hey, have you tried the cinnamon crumb cake at Whole Foods? It will change your life.”
As usual, I am completely over-exaggerating. Even the very best queso or crumb cake or ribeye steak can, at best, change only your day (or in my case, the number on the scale.) But when a pastor I know challenged us with the question, “What would happen if you lived your life gratefully this week?” my initial knee-jerk reactionary inside voice whispered, “It will change your life.” But this time, I believe it might actually be true.
So this week, I have tried to live gratefully. When a difficult challenge (like life) puts itself in my path, I have tried to find the good in it and take a moment to be grateful for the gift of that good thing. It has been really hard and truthfully, I am exhausted with it all. I plumb wore myself out with all the effort it took.
I am finding that thankfulness is an art and a practice and I am hoping that as I continue to work on this, thankfulness will become a more natural part of who I am. But one way it comes easily is when I think of you who support me by reading this blog. So let me take the opportunity to say that I am very, very grateful to each of you.
I sent a watered down version of this same piece out as the editorial in my real estate (day job) e-newsletter and I thanked those folks for their support in reading the newsletter and generally supporting my me/my business. I am grateful to them too. But if you take the time to read this blog, you really really really love on me when you do.
Thank you for being a part of my story. And thank you for sharing your stories right back and for helping me remember that I am not alone. So often the thing I am battling against is echoed in your comments and emails and there is some comfort in not feeling like you are the only one who struggles. I am so grateful for your willingness to limp alongside me or cheer me on as I walk this bumpy road that is my faith journey. Thank you for not judging me and even supporting me as I live/share my shortcomings and hard-learned lessons in front of an audience. It is a scary thing to hit that PUBLISH button, and the only two things that make it bearable are 1) knowing that God asked me to do it so there must be some reason and 2) knowing that you are on the other side of this post.
I love how having this blog has created a community for me where we can encourage and challenge each other in our journeys. So in all of my reflection lately about the things I am thankful for and what might happen if I lived my life gratefully this week, I have been thinking… What if Thanksgiving isn’t just a day we get together and watch football and eat ourselves into a food coma? What if it is more? And to take it a step further… What if Thanksgiving isn’t just something I practice this week as some sort of experiment? What if it becomes a permanent part of who I am?
I already know the answer… It will change my life.
So here is the challenge to all you other turkeys out there who struggle with being grateful: What if you do the same? I would dare to say that if each one of us lived our week gratefully, it will change our lives, our families, our homes. And at the risk of being Pollyanna-ish, if we dared to live our lives that way, it will change the world.