One Sunday when I was in my early teens, my mom and I sang a song together at church. I remember how nervous I was while I waited in the front pew for the end of the Scripture reading. Mom and I walked up together, stood behind the pulpit, placed our hymnal down, and waited for the introduction. We harmonized through our duet, “Count Your Blessings.” It’s a sweet memory of a special time with my mom.
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
I still sing that song sometimes to remind myself and my children to take a minute to think about the good things that have happened instead of just seeing the other not-so-awesome stuff.
Years ago I started a gratitude journal. I found it recently in my desk drawer. What a joy to look through it! I realized that when I started looking for things to be grateful for there was an abundance. I found joy in so many things…the sound of a car driving over gravel or the squeak of shoes on a basketball court, the cozy smell of coffee in the morning or the heavy sweetness right before a rain, the beauty of the sky after a storm or the moon on a clear night, the comfort of a soft quilt on a cold night or the breeze of a fan gently blowing on a hot day. The taste of a perfectly mixed soda fountain cola and melted butter on freshly baked bread. So many things to be thankful for, to find joy in, to focus on.
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
It has been entirely too easy over the years to focus on all the difficulties because, honestly, there is a fair amount of them. Opening the mail and finding another medical bill. Watching the news and seeing the next infuriating or devastating thing that’s happening. Discovering another thing that needs to be repaired or replaced. Listening to the hurt your child is suffering or addressing the hurtful choices of others. But enough about that. THAT is not what I want to focus on…good gravy, the whole point is to not focus on those.
“Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.”
I had a dear friend tell me I’m too much with the lists. Maybe. Probably. But some lists are good! Listing things that I’m thankful for seems like a wonderful idea!
“Count your many blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.”
It’s something that I’m trying to get my children to do as well. It’s surprisingly easy to get into the complaining rut. I read somewhere that we create pathways in our brains by our thinking. If we continually think negatively we create a rut in our brain that our thoughts naturally take. I’m sure this is why we need to take our thoughts captive. If we don’t, our thoughts make ruts that we definitely don’t want to get stuck traveling.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself traveling some well-worn paths in my brain. Definitely muddy. Certainly bumpy. Always uncomfortable. And, honestly, I’m sick to death of the paths my thoughts take. There is no positive outcome possible, no solutions presented, and no hopeful perspective. It’s time for a change. A U-turn of sorts. Maybe I go off the beaten path and onto one that is less well-worn. One that has been left untended, untraveled, and, maybe to some degree, unknown to me. One where I don’t get caught up in all the muck and mire. One where I pay attention to what is around me, what is ahead of me, and who is beside me. I know that God will reveal beauty in each moment, regardless of how difficult or frustrating, or heartbreaking it is.
The simple act of trying to find things to be grateful for is one way we can turn our thoughts around. One way we can even turn our life around…one thought, one moment, one day at a time.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34