How the noise, the bustle, the busy gets in the way this time of year! November isn’t halfway over yet, and still I feel the press of the to do list, the encroaching panic as the calendar fills up one square at a time. How easy it is to forget, how easy to get caught up in the string of days as they flow so quickly by, flick like telephone poles past the passenger window, going 70.
I forget to be thankful.
To be thankful for these blessings, the big ones and the tiny ones, the piercing orange-crimson of a leaf hanging from an otherwise bare branch, the furled beauty of the very last rose, bravely holding out the last of summer in its deep, sanguine beauty. To be thankful for the icy-cold bare feet that slip in next to me between flannel sheets early in the morning, and then two more pair as our bed turns to a game of Sardines and giggles fill the air in the hour before the sun rises.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the rattle-trap raucous of homeschool books, papers that need to be filed but instead have become cat toys for the kitten, pencils that are never where they ought to be (I know I bought a dozen packages of those in September!). There is dust on my piano, which means I have not had time either to play it or to clean it. The phone is ringing, ringing, and as I am talking, phone tucked between shoulder and ear, both hands packing baked potatoes into an insulated bag to take to church because if we want to eat together as a family we’ll just have to picnic there…the cell phone rings, too and the dog is scratching at the front door, marring the new red paint. I toss the salt and pepper shakers in and zip the bag, instruct a child that no, when I said put on your shoes I meant shoes, not sandals. I lose my temper and yell at Eldest to please do as I asked and get his guitar and hubby’s bass to the car right now and I bite my tongue through the construction and traffic all the way to church and I bite it even harder when I see that although the child I spoke to about the inappropriate footwear has changed her shoes, the one who is older and ought to know better is wearing flip flops.
I forget to be thankful.
I forget that earlier that day I was brought to tears as I listened to the strains of music floating down the stairs, Worship music pulled from a guitar by hands that are now as big as mine, my son creating a new song for his Lord. I forget the joy on that little face as she recounted a lesson we’d learned earlier, her face alight with enthusiasm, her hands moving as she spoke. I forget that on my desk sits a new volume of written work by a child who is blossoming, overflowing with creativity. I forget to be thankful for the quiet of the church as we hold hands, bow heads, and pray over a picnic-dinner spread on folding table, enjoying this oasis of time together before band practice and girl’s group.
How is it possible that it’s so easy to get caught up in the downward spiral of temper and frustration? Why is it not just as easy to be caught up in the upward lift of gratitude?
Perhaps being thankful is a habit to develop. Perhaps it is like any other habit, needing simply our conscious effort, our commitment, our willingness to exercise it daily.
Perhaps it needs a reminder, an alarm set four times a day to pull us back, remind us to remember, to praise God for each and every blessing He has bestowed on us. To thank Him for forgiving us our tempers, our frustrations, our blindness and business and forgetfulness.
Perhaps it needs a place to rest, to be recorded, written down. A journal of gratitude to remind us to stop, to listen, to really see.
Stopping to give thanks, taking moments to revel in simple gratitude, will change the way you see your life. It will slow down the rush, give you pause to catch your breath, re-set your attitude and re-build your perspective.
I know this, because on the days when I do remember to be thankful, the time goes by more smoothly. The bustle of life becomes a rhythm, a symphony rather than a cacophony. When I remember to be thankful, the irritants become blessings, the burdens become reasons for gratitude. When I remember, the world that was whizzing by at twice the speed of sound suddenly slows, comes sharply into focus.
Beauty blooms in every corner, rests on every minute. In this busy season, I resolve to set my clock to it, to write it down, to remember to remember.
Will you consider remembering with me? Start a gratitude journal and join the community of gratitude started by Ann Voskamp. Set the alarm on you cell phone for 9, noon, 5, and 9 again and when it goes off, simply stop what you are doing and give thanks to God for the blessings in your life. Perhaps we could pray, also, for those less fortunate…for those who live in need and despair, that we would find ways to reach out to them from our place of abundance.