Let me tell you about it.
It is a list of all the things I am thankful for.
I actually started this list three and a half years ago when my son was just a baby.
My son, for the first year of life at least, NEVER slept. Seriously. It was a rough time. I was beside myself with exhaustion and frustration. Adjusting to motherhood is tough enough and throw in being married to a Marine Corps Pilot on a deployment cycle and it basically brought me to the brink.
Those were hard months. I would sit in the rocking chair in my son's nursery at two in the morning in tears as I rocked, patted or nursed him to sleep for the fourth, fifth, and sometimes eighth time.
Yes, eight times.
Trust me when I say that MY SON JUST WOULDN'T SLEEP.
One night as I sat alone with my son in my arms, exhausted and desperate, instead of just crying, I cried out to the Lord.
I need help Lord. I love my baby but I'm SO TIRED. I need relief. Help my son sleep, He needs it and I need it. What am I doing wrong? I never thought it would be this hard. And I'm so exhausted I don't even know what to do or how to do it. What should I do Lord? What should I do?
No, my son didn't instantly sleep through the night at that point. It was months and months before the sleeping issues were worked out. That was not the miracle I got that day.
In the dark quiet a thought came to my mind (put there by the Lord without question) to make a list of all the things I am thankful for and read it when I was feeling low to shift my focus. God, in his wisdom, wanted to change my heart, not my circumstances. I was dwelling on the difficult things so much that I was forgetting about all the blessings my life was full of.
So I did. I made a list the next day and read it often, even in the middle of the night, and have been doing it ever since.
My first list looked something like this:
- The living written word of God, the Bible.
- My beautiful and healthy little boy
- My husband and his provision for our family though the privilege and honor of serving our country.
- My husband's safe return home from Iraq.
- Our health
- Living near the ocean
- The invention of the digital video recorder.
- Fresh produce from the farmer's market
- Green jasmine tea (basically sanity in a cup) and
- Having a two car household
It wasn't an exhaustive list. There is so much to be thankful for when you really sit down and think about it. From the most lighthearted things to the most important, God's blessings are truly too many to count. But at the time, these ten things got me through that season of my life...not the actual things...but how focusing on these things (and the One who provided them) redirected my heart.
In the years since, my list has changed and grown and shrunk and grown again.
Last Thanksgiving was the first without my girls. And I can't lie, it was painful to be thankful that day. I felt that all the things I had to be thankful for all added together did not out weigh the pain of the one thing I was NOT thankful for.
My girls were not with me.
It has been a long journey for me learning how to maintain a spirit of gratitude in the midst of true pain. The sleepless nights of the first year of my son's life pale in comparison to the grief I have endured since the deaths of my daughters.
As it turns out, a ten point list would not do the trick this time. Nor would a thousand point list.
This year my list has but one point.
Not that I am only thankful for one thing, but all that I am thankful for falls under this single point.
I AM NOT ALONE.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your holiday.
Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.