I’ve written several posts in my head in the last two days. This is where most of my posts start, with a few exceptions that I will not direct your attention to. Regardless, I’ve written several trying to be profound about the idea of living with a grateful heart. It became very clear by this afternoon that the week may pass without any sort of post at all if I didn’t get off my high horse pursuit of profundity and just write a little.
I love the holiday of Thanksgiving. I love everything about it. Apple carmel pies. Family. Those wicked cool buckle shoes the Pilgrim’s sported (the original Fluevogs, in my mind…). Even more than I love the holiday, though, I love the practice of gratitude.
About twelve years ago, Kelsey and I were greatly impacted by Steve Sjogren’s musings on kindness. Steve’s books – and later, Steve himself, sitting over half eaten pizzas or hot coffee – taught us that when the human heart encounters kindness, something changes. There becomes a space for grace that was not there before the encounter. In that void, God slips in and explains all the kindness in the universe.
I can’t quite articulate it, but I’ve always thought of gratitude or thankfulness as the flip side of the kindness coin. What kindness does for us, gratitude does in us.
When kindness is expressed to us, it opens a door to all sorts of possibilities. Perhaps someone cares. Perhaps there is hope. Perhaps life is not as bad as it seems.
When gratitude becomes a part of our ethos, those doors are blown off the hings. Of course someone cares. Of course there is hope. Of course life is not as bad as it seems. What kindness begins in us, gratitude brings full circle, and suddenly we are expressing to others and to God the very thing that drew us to Him.
With those thoughts as a background, here is a short list of a few things I’m thankful for.
I’m thankful for my looney family. Kelsey and I and the kids – we’re even nuttier than you think. All most of you know is what we twitter, facebook or record on video. Those are the high points. In reality, we’re a few more degrees off center than you’d guess, but we’re all wonderfully in love with one another. The Compound is a place of fun and of joy – those are two different nuances. I love that we enjoy them both.
I’m thankful for my coworkers. I serve with other leaders as well as run essentially two teams – Hannah’s Dream Adoptions and The Zoe Foundation. Hannah’s Dream is a smaller team – six or seven people depending on where the borders lie. The Zoe Foundation includes about eight volunteer rock star staff and an amazing board. These two teams and my other sundry duties are bridged by a rock star uber assistant. I can honestly say that given the chance, I would pick each of them again. No regrets. They’re good at what they do, but more importantly, they are dear to me.
I’m thankful for the year 2010. It has not been easy. My guess is yours wasn’t either. But it was filled with experiences that are rounding me out as a person, filling in the gaps and filing down the knobs in the unredeemed parts of my personality.
The financial struggles were hard. The Lord was faithful through them.
The travel was tiring. The Lord was faithful through it.
The relationships stretched, contracted, twisted, and maybe even broke from time to time. God was glorified in them.
Time is loaned to us by God to allow us space to become more like Him. I cannot despise the passage of time. It is a gift to be consumed.
I’m thankful for strangers whose only connection with us is at the heart level. They’ve read something we wrote or heard something we said and it resonated with what God was already doing in their heart. I think the essence of good writing or teaching is often to identify what God is already saying and repeat it, which logically means you’re going to end up telling people what they were already hearing from the Lord. We’ve heard from a number of people how “That’s exactly what I was sensing…..”. Those conversations area always fun because God looks so much bigger in light of all the people He speaks to.
I’m thankful for scripture. This year has meant a return to more structured, lengthy reading of the Bible for me, and each time I pick it up I find it rich in places that I may have found it dry before.
I’m not sure what you’re thankful for. No doubt it means as much to you as these things do to me. And no doubt it is doing in you the same thing my gratitude is doing in me – expressing that there is a living God, bigger than circumstance, bigger than happenstance, working all situations toward my own good.
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