A few months ago, I wrote about the ways I try to stay positive each day despite a pretty cruddy commute. Surprisingly, I’m still holding up okay, though there’ve been a couple of instances where I’ve had major freak out moments of exasperation and frustration. Grumpy Cat fo sho!
When I am so fixated on how frustrating the world is to me in a particular moment in time and how the universe owes me big time for forcing me to drive through rush hour Los Angeles traffic, I think back to a message some friends shared back in the UCI Nav days on the discipline of thankfulness. The homework they gave each of us for that week was to reflect on and pray about 10 things we are thankful for each morning.
Which is genius really, because when you realize just how much you have to be thankful for and just how much you have been given by God, you feel a little bit (A LOT) like a jerk for getting so angry over these minute and insignificant things. Also, it’s nearly impossible to experience true thankfulness and have a complaining spirit at the same time. They are just incongruent.
But not only are your training yourself out of a complaining spirit. You are disciplining within yourself the ability to be content in any and every circumstance. You are shaping your character.
So I’ve been trying in the past couple of weeks to intentionally practice thankfulness every day, and ESPECIALLY when I start getting grumpy. I thought I’d share with you the ten things I’m thankful for today.
Today, I am thankful for (and in no particular order):
1. God’s mercy and grace
Each day I realize more and more the depths of my sinfulness, and each day I discover more and more the depths of God’s love in choosing me despite my sin.
2. Freedom and healing
It would have been way more than enough for God to just forgive me, but not only does He do that, He has transformed me, healed me, and set me free, not just for my sake, but for the sake of generations to come. I look back on my life 10 years ago, and I am simply amazed at God’s goodness to me in the past decade (or three) of my life.
3. My husband
Who wakes up each morning with me and makes me breakfast and coffee. Who puts Angry Birds stickers on my lunch box and Diet Coke as a surprise “just ‘cuz.” Who walks the dog every morning. Who is so quick to forget the many ways I’ve wronged him, even though I’m not as quick to forget. Who has been my greatest cheerleader and encouragement in everything I do. Who makes me a better woman.
4. My job
Um. Hello. Did we forget that getting this job was a miracle in itself??? And here I am a few months later getting grumpy about the drive to the job I should never have gotten. And not only the provision of the job, but the job itself is enjoyable, my co-workers are normal, and I honestly don’t despise driving to and from work every day. With the few (NO) choices it seemed like I had at one point, God could have easily just given me a horrible job with horrible co-workers that I just had to endure for a year, but He’s been so gracious in going above and beyond my expectations. Always. We sure do have a way of easily forgetting the things we were once SO GRATEFUL for, don’t we?
Gosh, I love my dog. I wasn’t a dog lover before I got her, and I never understood dog lovers. Until we got Daisy. And now I can’t imagine our lives without her. For example, this morning when she sensed that I was about to get out of bed, she just turned her tiny little head and rested it on my shoulder and sighed. Who wants to get out of bed now??? Not me, that’s fo sho. She’s perfect for our quirky little family. She’s a fantastic companion when Big Pup (or RJ) is gone. She’s sweet. She’s funny. She’s a spaz. She’s just such a blessing. She can almost win anyone over to liking dogs. And I’m still praying Jesus lets her into heaven.
6. My family
Not just my husband, but my parents, my sister and brother in law, and my brother. And my niece, of course. :) For who they all are and how they have shaped me to be the person I am today. For their faithfulness, even in the hardest seasons of my life. For their unconditional love, even if it’s not verbally expressed. And not only that, but that God has saved and changed every person in my immediate family. Well, except Evelyn, but I have no doubt with her parents that she’ll grow up to love God. I finally have the family that I wanted growing up. A family that eats together. A family that prays together. A family that actually talks to one another and spends time together. Before Jesus, there wasn’t much of that. God redeems.
7. My in-laws
My in-laws are the nicest people in the whole world. Seriously. They are honest-to-goodness, deep-down-to-the-core, just GOOD people. Even before we were dating I heard on numerous occasions that RJ’s parents were the nicest people in the world. When others meet them, they’re like, “Are they for real???” Yes. They are absolutely for real. Like imagine the perfect television parents. The Cleavers or something. That’s RJ’s parents. And RJ’s sister is just ridiculously creative, fashion-forward, spunky, endlessly loyal, funny, and sweet. She is always a season or two ahead of the current fashion trends. Rompers? She was sporting them the summer before all the rest of ya’ll were! And don’t even get me started with RJ’s extended family. Goodness. This is the family that old people cast glares at for laughing too loud and having too much fun. Good people all around. There are always the classic horror stories about crazy in-laws from hell, and I have been super blessed to have had absolutely zero horror stories to tell.
8. The “kids” at UCR
Don’t mind me, I call everyone “kid.” Man, the way they open their lives up to us, the way they let us speak into their lives, they way they actually listen, the way they trust us, the way they shape our lives, the way they serve us…they are more than just our students. Over the years, they become deep friends. And how fun that they let us be a part of their story!
We have never been in need. God has time and time again proved Himself faithful in coming through for us, and never a moment too late. We are SO blessed!
10. Our car!
Speaking of provision, I thought I’d have to fill up the tank 3-4x/week, but it’s been holding steady at 2x/week. It is faithful, it gets me to where I need to go, it has air conditioning, and guess what?? It’s all paid off now!! Praise God!
You see? How can I get so irritated and upset with the world and with a silly thing like my daily commute when I have so much going for me each and every day?
I encourage you to think about 10 things you are thankful for each day this week. Let’s take our eyes off of all that we are lacking, all that we feel we are missing out on, and all that we are irritated with in our lives.
Instead, let’s shape our character to be people who are truly thankful for and content with what we have right here in this very moment, because everything is truly a gift from God.