"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;
in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - Thessalonians 5:16-18
I metaphorically use that old adage, "Do as I say, not as I do," WAY too much. You know what I mean? Do you ever give advice knowing it's the right thing to do...but you don't actually do it yourself?
I do it more than I care to admit.
So, this Thanksgiving season, I decided to put my money - or in this case, my creativity - where my mouth is. I put together a pin board so my family could remember to give thanks, writing our blessings down daily, something I've often encouraged but haven't always followed through on myself.
Then the funniest, most surprising, thing happened this morning.
I became more grateful.
We've been talking in our family about perspective lately. About how sometimes it just takes a small shift in thinking to go from having a negative attitude to a sunny outlook. One of my favorite examples of this shift is from the book, The Noticer, by Andy Andrews. The book's central character, Jones, is teaching, a then young and homeless, Andy Andrews about gaining perspective. They're sharing lunch on the shores of Orange Beach, just a few miles from where I grew up. Jones asks Andy what he's eating and where he's eating it. Confused (because they're eating the same thing in the same place) Andy responds, "Okay. I am eating sardines and Vienna sausages...in the sand."
Jones then teaches the lesson that "whatever you focus upon, increases." If you focus on your needs, the needs will increase. If you focus on loss, you will most likely lose. "But a grateful perspective brings happiness and abundance into a person's life...Incidentally, you ate sardines and Vienna sausages in the sand. I dined on surf and turf with an ocean view. It's all about perspective."
Surf & turf with an ocean view...
Oh, yes, to have that kind of perspective.
Case in point...
My husband and I have very different body clocks and schedules. He's an early riser, jumping out of bed with energy and a smile on his face. I'm a night owl, often doing my best work and thinking late into the night. Morning? Not so much for me. I mean, I'm not sleeping late or anything. Most days, my alarm sounds at 6:40AM. Then I'm up and out of bed two "snoozes" later, slowly, gingerly picking my way down the hall wrapped in a blanket.
I'm not gonna lie. Many times during my marriage, I've been frustrated to not wake up next to my husband. It's that sleepy, close time of day for me that I find truly rewarding. By the time I awaken, Drew has generally gotten out of bed, worked out, is making eggs and bacon for the family (and may or may not have started a load of laundry, built a house or solved world hunger as well). He's helping the family, of course, but still, I'm bitter that I've missed my close morning time with him.
This morning was no different except that Colleen had overslept, I had thrown my back out yesterday and couldn't go grocery shopping and we had almost nothing to eat in the house. Drew bounded into the house, sweaty from his workout and I said, "Could you please jump in the car and run to the grocery store? We have almost nothing to feed the kids for lunch." He said, "No problem!" running to change his shirt. He was back before Braden was out of bed. While he was gone, dealing once again with my frustration that I would not see him much before he had to go to work, I took my paper from the bulletin board. My first thanksgiving for the day? "Today I am grateful for a husband who doesn't mind going to the grocery store." I felt a bit under duress to write it because I knew I should be grateful...but Lord knows, I didn't want to let go of my resentment.
Then God's amazing grace took over.
In taking the time to write it down...
pin it to the board...
and reflect on it for a few moments,
my attitude actually changed.
By the time Drew got home, I truly felt grateful. I thanked him sincerely for going to the store and thought to myself, "You know, I am really lucky to have this man for my husband."
Who knew that doing what you say to do could actually work so well?
(Sidebar: In addition to the grocery run, Drew also helped clean up the house and do the dishes before leaving for work. The bonus? That freed up more time for me to reflect on this lesson and write about it. Wow...the blessings are endless...)