An Experiment in Gratitude
Be thankful for today. You only see it once.
I came across this quote several years ago, and I wrote it down. It seemed profound. I saw it during a time in my life that was particularly hard. If I am being honest, it was on a day that I would never want to repeat and I struggled to find the good in it and be thankful.
Life is like that, some days are hard and some days everything seems to align and feel carefree. It is during this time that I was desperate to find the good that I started focusing on little things that were good. A good cup of coffee, a sweet conversation, a bloom on a rosebush or the sound of a bird song drifting across the breeze. I focused on each of my kids, their unique and fun personalities. I made connection with my husband a big priority everyday – Holding hands, saying I love you.
Those gestures didn’t erase the hard, but they made me realize that hard and good can live side by side. As a matter of fact, they always do. Some days we might have to get out the proverbial binoculars to see it, but I promise you it is there if we make the effort to be intentional.
This past month, I did a 10 day “Unexpected Joy” challenge on Instagram. I shared the small things that brought me joy and asked people to join me and share their small joys too. The amount of messages I received was overwhelming. Together we intentionally sought joy which brought about a lot of gratitude. It really was the small things right in front of us.
I even had one lady tell me she found joy in her husband snoring because he had just battled a serious illness and survived and his snoring meant he was still with her. I cried when I read her message. It is the shift to gratitude that allows us to feel joy even when we are experiencing pain.
I pray today you find small things that bring you great joy!
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward.Jun 26, 2020
Gratitude, I think many of us if asked would say of course I am grateful for what I have but that statement doesn’t always play out in how we live our every day lives. Right?
Yesterday, my husband and I went for a walk. It was a beautiful fall day in the city of Nashville. Crisp fall air, bright blue sky, and golden leaves shimmering in the sunshine. We walked past the historic First Baptist Church which was built in the late 1800’s. It sits right at the edge of Broadway, right before you get to the main part of the street filled with Honky Tonks and dreams of the young and old singers and songwriters trying to make those dreams come true.
I thought about all the people who have passed through these historic doors over the many years and all the stories of God’s faithfulness. This church still has an active community and I was feeling grateful or at least I thought I was – until…
A homeless man was walking toward us with a rose in his hand. A rose he had obviously picked off of a nearby bush that was still blooming. He went to hand it to me and I said, “oh no, thank you.” He looked me in the eye and said,” I don’t want any money, I just want you to have a blessed day and enjoy this rose.” So I took the rose from his hand and he smiled so big. I thanked him and told him how sweet it was for him to offer me this flower and I hoped he had a blessed day too.
I put the rose in water when we got home and it has opened and is blooming. It has been a beautiful reminder to me to open my eyes to the blessings right in front of me. Isn’t that what gratitude is? Often times it is right there, we just need to open our eyes, see it and be thankful. I almost missed an opportunity to join in another person’s gratitude because it felt awkward. I didn’t have any money with me to give this man, yet he wasn’t wanting anything in return, he truly just wanted to put a smile on someone else’s face. A gift, without any strings attached. A reminder to me of God’s gift of grace and sacrifice.
As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I hope you will be inspired by this story, share freely your gratitude with others and invite them in to sharing their gratefulness too.
I am praying we all will recognize the beauty of life that is right before us and celebrate that in gratitude.