So I drank some coffee and took Excedrine to fight off my second migraine this week so I’m still pretty awake at the moment. Thought I’d use some of this time to post some of my gratitude list, in the spirit of November’s Thanksgiving. Ever since I read Ann Voskamp‘s One Thousand Gifts I’ve started the year off listing things I’m grateful for. I am currently on #708 and know I will reach at least 1,000 by the end of the year! Life isn’t without pain and this isn’t about ignoring pain. My last couple weeks have been far from easy. There have been goodbyes, annoying headaches, and overwhelming amount of work to do, frustrating roadblocks, a friend is currently distancing from me, I haven’t slept or exercised enough or eaten super well. Etc. But here’s what focusing on the crappy stuff does. It just creates a spirit of complaining. Worst of all, it causes you to miss the good and it trains your eyes to see the bad. It’s amazing what listing the good things can do for your soul and for the way you look at life.
Some of my highlights from the past couple of weeks…
642. Father Fred asking me to share thoughts on prayer with teenagers in his Catholic religious education class.
650. People pointing out my spiritual gifts at Bible study.
659. Phil Stacey & Trevor Hager leading worship at staff conference.
662. My staff goodbye and all the words of affirmation given to me.
668. Rapping some old school DC Talk around the bonfire with Phil and Trevor.
669. A random and meaningful bear hug from a friend.
672. Making my first-ever work-related phone call to a longtime friend who will soon be a coworker.
676. A student reading me her poem about bullying and having self-worth rooted in what God thinks about you.
685. The Shack.
690. Dancing at the military ball.
691. Snuggle time with the bestie talking about how cool God is.
699. The awesome Eagles game against the Raiders.
703. A volunteer leader saying that being around all of us leaders is uplifting.
704. Drew Holcomb’s music.
In her club talk the other night, one of my leaders spoke about how we always ask if God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? when we should also, and maybe instead, be asking, Why is there so much good in the world? Everything good comes from God. I’m so bad at looking for the good. I’m an expert at looking for the bad, inside and outside myself. But when we look for the good, we see God Himself. I want to see more of Him and less of the crap in the world and in myself. There is so much joy in gratitude. Sometimes I look at what I’ve written and feel incredibly selfish and self-involved, and I miss all the things God is trying to show me with each of those things on the list. I feel like with each tiny thing on my list He is saying, “I know the bad stuff is hard. But I want to show you some good things to encourage you, to redeem the bad, to let You know that I am here and that I love you through the hard things. Don’t give up.” He does that throughout the entire Bible, too. He is always telling the Israelites to build altars and stuff to remind themselves of how He delivered them in the past, so that when they run up against something else that’s difficult and painful they can look bad and remember their deliverance and God’s goodness. God knew we’d easily forget, easily focus on the hard stuff. Practicing gratitude is like the modern-day version of building an altar. I don’t write things down to check a box. I write them down so that my negatively-focused soul will remember my God and know He is with me in the present just as He was with me in the past.
You are good, You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin
You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You’re the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost its sting
Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign
My heart will sing no other name
Forever Reign by Hillsong