Sunday, January 30, 2011

Practicing Gratitude

I read a good book. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It was as good as I thought it would be after reading her blog for the last 2+ years. The book is about the author's very personal journey to a deeper understanding of who God is and who we are in Him through an unexpected dare to count 1000 things she loves. It was so good.
I think I've sort of subconsciously been doing this for a while. With everything I've been through the last 4 years, I've been training my mind and being intentional about where I let it go, and what I let it dwell on. In doing that, it forces one to look at the positive and even be thankful for the difficult. Much of the last almost 4 years have been a journey of us being dealt lots of things that might make one question God's goodness and God's love for us or even His reality. Saying goodbye to Willie the hardest. Still a daily quest to practice what I believe. So easily my mind wants to go to the place that throws a pity party. The place that says this world is hopeless, there isn't much good. The place that wants to give up because what's the point? Life is nothing but a slow and painful saying goodbye to everyone and everything I love. Things don't work out and people don't really love each other and sooner or later what appears good will come crumbling down.
See what I mean? Really easy to go there.
But I don't believe that and I haven't for a long time...but it's been in these hard years that I have been practicing. Who do I believe God is? I believe He is real, and good and personal. So I practice. Willie is gone so what do I believe?...God is good...(Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, his loving kindness is everlasting.) I believe it. He has a plan (For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, they are plans for good, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11). I believe it. He will comfort...(The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed." Psalm 34:18) I believe it.

But we have to move again (we dont' right now...I'm just sayin'). I don't understand, but I practice....(The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail Isaiah 58:11). I believe it.

But I'm tired and the kids are needy, and I homeschool, and the house is a mess, and I never have "me" time, and I hate grocery shopping, and I have to cook dinner again, and marriages around me are crumbling, and people are letting me down, and people are sick and I want them well, and I just keep failing.

breathe. (I seriously have to remind myself. Sometimes Rand reminds me..."uh, hon, you're not breathing....")

But I keep practicing. (James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.) I believe it.

This book I just read was encouraging. The exercise and practice and looking for more deeper, it works. It makes me want to be even more intentional about focusing on gratitude, because the more you look for it and look at it, the more you see it, and the more you can see it even when life, on the outside, looks bleak.

I think what I liked was it isn't about counting your blessings when you obviously are blessed. It was about forcing yourself to the midst of tragedy, chaos, stress, family, life, etc., and look for gifts. There are more than a thousand! It is a discipline and an art form and it is life changing.

Count your blessings!


Kristi said...

I've been wanting to read it. I think I should and it sounds like a great time of year for it too.

...and that's why it's called practicing.

Anonymous said...

I agree, all good things require lots of practice, that is why I must go fishing soon, to stay in paractice.
Uncle Bubba