Here we are, the week of Thanksgiving, and depending on where you are or what's on your plate or what you are walking through, this season of turkeys and pumpkin spice lattes might not stir up that spirit of thanksgiving everyone is talking about. In fact, it might just make you want to swell with bitterness. Or anger. Or self pity. It is easy to walk around, eyes moving from side to side, focusing on what others have been given and naming all the blessings that have painted their path, when you feel your path is in desperate need of a fresh coat of color.
If I have learned anything over the past seven months, it is that God's goodness is not dependent on what happens to me. My situation might feel life shattering, but there is so much life giving good that the Father is offering, even in the middle of my pain. But I have to search for it and choose to recognize it. I have to keep my eyes on Him to keep my eyes from lingering on others. And there is only one way I know to keep my eyes upward during these difficult seasons.
The practice of persistent thankfulness.
What do we do when we want to master a new skill or life goal? We practice. We don't just wake up one day a better cook or able to run those three miles. No, day after day after day we practice. We put in the time and effort, even when we don't feel like it. We proclaim "This is important to me and therefore It is worth not only my time but my physical and emotional energy."
So when I find myself in midst of these difficult seasons, I have learned that I have to keep coming into His presence with thanksgiving, even when I don't want to. My feelings will eventually catch up with my actions. There is always good to be found, I just have to train my eyes to see it. And taking the time each day to thank God for these little blessings, may actually provide the long-awaited key He uses to unlock these difficult seasons and unleash His peace.
Psalm 100:4-5 encourages us to enter His courts with praise and reminds us that His faithfulness continues through all generations. All generations walk through valleys, but His faithfulness is enough.
Psalm 107:22 reminds us to tell of his works with songs of joy. There is no disclaimer in parenthesis, nothing that states "but only respond with joy if life has felt easy and you have encountered no hardship." No, the verse just says it plain and simple. Tell of his works.
So I must work at this goal to be persistent in my thankfulness. I must train my eyes to see the good. I must train my mouth to tell of his faithfulness, his good works. And I train by sitting in his presence and reporting back to him all the joy I find in a day. I write it all down and then offer it back up.
Joys such as. . .
My support system.
Good food that I enjoy everyday.
A roof over my head.
The hope of heaven.
Long hugs at the end of the day.
The giggles from my children when they jump on the bed.
The peaceful sound of listening to the rain.
My husband's job.
A car that gets me from point A to point B.
The look in my children's eyes when I greet them in the morning.
Healthy babies being born.
Other special needs parents who truly get it.
The smile of a stranger in passing.
Crisp air that welcomes outside play.
I take this report and give it back to God with an "I don't deserve any of this but I thank you for it." And slowly but surely the key that was once hidden, is found. My feelings catch up and my difficult season is viewed in new light, with that much needed fresh coat of white.
Are you walking through a hard season? What joys can you report back to God? How do you practice persistent thankfulness in your own life?
Have a great Thanksgiving holiday!
(Apologies for the wonky font sizes. Not sure what is going on and I can't seem to figure it out. Shocker.)