I heard recently someone say that the best way to get through difficult times is to recite ten things you are thankful for every day. It’s all about perspective, right? If we have tunnel vision regarding our circumstances, and we are only focused on what is going wrong, we lose perspective, and things become dark and heavy in our hearts.
However, if we are somehow (and this is not always easy) able to find a few things each and every day to be thankful for we find ourselves feeling lighter, and our circumstances, while still grim, don’t quite overpower us like they did the day before.
A few years ago I heard another quote that has literally changed my life. The quote read, “Life can be hard and good at the same time.” At the time I heard those words, I had been working under a belief system that when things were hard, THEY WERE JUST HARD. Somehow the difficulty I was experiencing in my life stepped on to the stage and everything else had to sit down and wait for the difficulty to remove itself, and then the good things could stand up and be forefront in my life again. Silly!! Where did I get that? So when I heard that BOTH could take front and center it changed me. I began to focus on being thankful for the good things that were always going on (truly, I can always find at least 10 things to be thankful for, and rarely if ever can I find 10 things to be struggling with).
The pilgrims, who left their lives of familiarity in England, and crossed treacherous seas in unfathomable travel conditions to make a new life for themselves in a new land filled with hope and promise, experienced difficulties beyond compare once they reached what we now know as America. Death of children, spouses, hunger, cold, attacked by those defending their land, were just a few of the trials they overcame. Yet, they persevered, and the very circumstances they were in made them MORE grateful for what they had. Hence, the Thanksgiving Feast they celebrated. They gave thanks for what they had–hope, shelter, native friends who helped them learn to successfully grow food, freedom to practice their faith, and for God, who had brought them this far. They knew life could be both hard and good at the same time.
This Thanksgiving week, try this experiment. Starting today, right now in fact, list 10 things you are thankful for. I’m sure that won’t even scratch the surface.
Then tomorrow, write 10 more, and the next day 10 more. They can be the same things, or new. Try to do this through the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Let’s not just say were thankful, let’s know it in our hearts.
“You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he endures forever.” Psalm 118:28-29