Thanksgiving has ended and the Christmas season has officially begun. Those who joined in November’s "30 Days of Thankfulness" on social media will be winding down their intentional thankful posts this week. Christmas parties will begin, and families will start planning where they will be when in the coming weeks. The days between now and Christmas will literally fly by us, leaving us unsure exactly what went through our minds in the whirlwind, much less how much we intentionally contemplated thankfulness.
Although I did not actively take part in the social media thankful status posts, I have thought more intentionally about thankfulness this month. The intentional thought has led me to realize just how much I neglect thankfulness in normal day to day life, whether it drags by or moves quickly. I want to change that in the coming year. Instead of coming upon November of 2013 and realizing how much more I need to focus on being thankful, I want to discover next year that my overall attitude of thankfulness has increased dramatically.
I must admit something about myself, though. I grew up with the "Count Your Blessings" mentality. You know…
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.
But I struggle to do that. When I find myself in the middle of that discouragement, it can be so hard to dredge up blessings. Somehow the "billows" and "all is lost" pressure drowns out the memories of good things. Obviously, I can look around me and see that I have a roof over my head, plenty of food and clothing, and a wonderful family. But sometimes I need more. Sometimes I need to be reminded of specific ways God stepped into my situation and showed Himself to me. Sometimes it is not material blessings I need. In fact, more often than not, I need the reminder of the most vital blessing ever received: the presence of God. I need to look back on a written record of those moments when I truly knew God’s presence and be reminded.
It can be difficult to find that record, though, if I neglect to record it in the first place.
Recently I challenged a couple of youth to create a blessings jar. They decorated the outside of the jar and then placed blank slips of paper inside it. Every time they notice a blessing or something they need to be thankful for, they are to write it down on one of those slips of paper, fold it up, and put it back in the jar. Then when they find themselves struggling to be thankful or to remember the incredible goodness of God, they are to take out any slip of paper and read it. They can be reminded of reasons to be thankful.
I need to do the same. Mine may or may not be a jar, but I need to create a written record of every time I see God’s hand. I need to write down the thankful thoughts that flow through my mind in times of strength and encouragement. Then when I feel those times of discouragement and am tossed in those billows of life, I need to pull out those slips of paper. When read in conjunction with the promises of God’s Word, they cannot help but stir an attitude of thankfulness within me!
Will you join me in making 2013 a year of growth in thankfulness? By this time next year, may we be more of a thankful people than ever before!