I had five minutes before I had to go to my next teacher evaluation. That’s it. Just five minutes. I had a choice to make: Would I take the time to scribble a little note of thanks to God, or would I busy myself with some other task? At noon, when my reminder alarm would sound, I would be knee deep in scripting notes about what I was seeing and hearing in the classroom. When I would return to my office at 12:30, I would not remember that I had missed my appointed time with God, and I would plow through the rest of my day. With just a mere 300 seconds remaining, I could allow my mind to process gratitude, or I could give a deep sigh and bemoan the fact that I had not yet made it through half my work day. I chose to be grateful. I chose God. I opened my desk, took out my turquoise journal, and I began: “Thank You, Father…”
It feels good to work toward those big, lofty goals we have for our lives, doesn’t it? We tend to feel self-satisfied when we can knock off the next semester in college or land the dream job, but what about those teeny-weeny victories? You know, the ones that no one will write sweeping epics about. No one celebrates the fact that we got out of bed when we most wanted to pull the covers over our heads and just cry. No one gives us the powerful and dramatic slow clap that cascades into full-blown applause when we dare to meet the day head on, especially when the day before knocked the wind out of us. No one gives us the “atta girl” or “you go, boy” when we do the smallest or most mundane show of courage. No one on earth, that is!
I believe that God and angels cheer us on from heaven when we decide (because it is a choice, isn’t it?) to bravely put one foot in front of the other, defying circumstance and emotion and Satan himself to have faith and be grateful. I believe that sometimes taking one small step is hardest thing we will do all day. Sometimes, just having the guts to move instead of remaining frozen in fear is an act of heroism.
Friend, I hope that today you open your eyes to a Savior who is not just watching for the big accomplishments in life, but who is rooting for you to take the next baby step in faith. I hope you hear Him tell you to keep going. I hope you feel His encouraging pat on the back. But if you don’t, consider how much you are feeding yourself a negative self report. Consider what you are allowing to consume your thoughts. Next, actively search for what is NOT wrong in your life. Then despite all the heartache, all the pain, all the things that are overwhelming you and weighing you down, go out on a limb and dare to be grateful! I dare you, Friend, to find three things you are truly grateful for right now. Don’t worry about how small or silly your list is. Just be grateful and tell God “thanks!” Tell Him why you are grateful, and ask Him to reveal three more things to you that you can be grateful for. Finally, thank Him for allowing you to take that small step of faith.
I stood in the shower lathering up. “I have never thanked You for soap to clean my body. Thank You, Lord!” I giggled to myself for such a silly moment of gratitude until I remembered the homeless and the poverty-stricken, and I realized that soap is not so silly. That thought led me to think about how much water I was wasting, so I turned it off until I was ready to rinse. “This water, Lord, is such a little thing to me, but it is such a big thing to so many people around the world. Thank you, Lord!” When I thought about the people living without proper sanitation or hygiene products or even a safe place to clean themselves, my problems didn’t seem that big. “I have so much to be grateful for, Lord, and I am so sorry for not always recognizing it.”
“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.” (Psalm 9: 1-2, NIV)