Is Thanksgiving merely one holiday out of the year...or is thanksgiving an indicator of how we live?
Thus the reason why I have launched into this experiment of keeping a thanksgiving journal.
The select few people who know me well, on an extremely intimate and kindred level, know that my general perspective on life can lean towards being rather glum. While I kid that I'm a "glass half-empty" kinda girl...there's more to that than I am often willing and ready to confront. The fact of the matter is, I can be quite overcome with all that is wrong in the world, all that is wrong in relationships, all the things I think should be in my life yet seem to be missing. The effects of this can be downright paralyzing at times. Just this weekend, I was so overcome and so down that I wasn't even up for attending our small group gathering (if you are reading this and part of our small group, I hope you won't take offense). I have come to know this more and more about myself, and my hope is that this will be an opportunity for emptying myself before God, for a complete shift in focus where I have failed to see His continual work and outpouring of grace in my life.
While in the aforementioned slump last week and into this previous weekend, one of those "kindred-level" friends suggested a book to me. My natural tendency would be to add the title to my ever-growing list of books that I have every intention of reading...someday. But for whatever reason, I got in my car the very next day during lunch, and purchased the book from the nearest bookstore. I won't give away the title just yet as I'm still working through it, taking my time to really reflect on what the author is conveying. I would summarize the premise of the book by something she recently posted on her own blog: "No one receives the peace of God without giving thanks to God." Wow...how often do we emotionally, and in our daily practical living, attempt to switch the order around? How often do I spin my wheels, looking around at the world, striving after peace as if striving after wind, and all the while failing to the acknowledge the One who has given everything--and given gladly and freely?
I know that I am in desperate need of a focus shift, a significant change in perspective, and that kind of transformation can only happen by way of God's grace penetrating the very core of who I am. He has proven faithful time and again, and promises to complete the good work He has begun (Philippians 1:6). As a very practical means of working toward a perspective shift, I have opted to put an exquisite, handmade journal to good use. My youth pastor made the journal for me (and one for my husband as well) as a graduation gift two years ago. Since his wife is the one who recommended the book on thanksgiving in the first place, I thought it rather appropriate to use the journal he made for this purpose. The journal is small enough to carry with me, so that I can have it nearby to pull out at a moment's notice; very practically speaking, it helps to have something easy to tuck away so that it's always nearby.
Seeing as this is the night before the holiday, I thought it an appropriate time to begin my thanksgiving journal (and to finally respond to the conviction that had been weighing on me). To give you a small taste of how both minute and grandiose the notes of thanks can be, my first day's thanks includes gratitude for a roof over my head, two four-legged friends, a sparkly Christmas tree, and eating graham crackers with my husband.
If you are someone who struggles with a perspective like mine, one so often marked by a lack of real gratitude, may this be of encouragement to you for adopting a similar habit. Here's another snippet from the author's blog:
"The life that counts blessings discovers it's yielding more than it seems."