i typically hate new year resolutions because, really, how often do we actually fulfill them? but this one was different.
if you know me or have read along, you’ve heard something about me breaking both of my wrists. almost a year ago now, that incident turned my life upside down…more than anyone can really imagine. i couldn’t shower or wash my hair. i couldn’t get dressed. i couldn’t lift a fork or a spoon at times. i couldn’t drive. i couldn’t work.
in an instant so many things were ripped from me, things that i didn’t even realize i cared about or wanted. that 4-6 months of recovery was one of complete and utter humility, learning to lean on those around me and to appreciate all of those small things i could no longer do for myself.
i think that forced humility is why, when i heard ann voskamp speak about her book “one thousand gifts”, this idea stuck with me. i thought to myself about all those little things i was grateful to be able to do again (i was all healed up at this point!) and figured i could come up with 1000 easily.
in my typical planning mindset though, i knew i had to set parameters, otherwise i wouldn’t do it. i’d go public, a bit of potential shame would keep me from giving up entirely. i’d break it up and set a schedule, i could handle something that would only take me 10 minutes each day. i’d be real, because it’s much harder to make up so many thing to be grateful for than just recognizing it daily. and i’d give myself some grace, because i knew this would be a busy season…but i also knew i’d bounce right back.
the first thirty days felt like a breeze. it was spent appreciating the people i love, immense blessings throughout my life, some hard moments where i now see good, and just some basic simple things that i love.
the next seventy days were….more difficult. this was when the challenge set in. this was when i had to actually start paying attention to my day and looking for things to be grateful for. this was when my heart moved from a steady warm up jog into the marathon run.
now, i’m human. i’m not some gratitude machine after this. i still feel sad and disappointed and overwhelmed.
but that’s not what this was about. it was never about eliminating those emotions. it was always about controlling the condition of my heart. i could tell you how this time shaped my heart in so many ways but to be most effective, i think i just need to convey how much MORE has been added to it.
- MORE JOY
i feel deeply. more deeply than most. so on days where everything goes wrong, my natural inclinations are hardcore wallowing and depression. but y’all on days when everything went wrong, i found that this practice put everything into perspective. it assured me of all the good and amazing things in my life. it convinced me that there is always a way to be grateful about circumstances. and that practice lifted me up from those hard days into mindsets of positivity, joy, and faith.
2. MORE LIFE-GIVING RELATIONSHIPS
acknowledging those around you is a habit we all too often fail to fulfill. but taking moments to express deep gratitude for those in your life–for all the things they have done & will do for you, big or small–adds depth to any relationship. i feel closer to those around me, by the simple practice of pointing out what they add to my life. try it and you’ll see that it just adds light to any relationship. so much light.
3. MORE FAITH IN GOD
it sounds cheesey but at the end of the day, i’ve realized how blessed i am. not only that, but i’m assured that in everything God is working for our good–so in everything, that alone is reason to be grateful. looking back though, it becomes clear that this wasn’t the case some of the time…it is the case all of the time. and with an assurance like that, how can faith ever be wavered?
4. MORE CANDOR
i’ve found that i’ve started to care more about those little things, and as a result i’ve been letting less and less people slide by me with remarks of disparity, anger, or harsh words. i no longer see myself excusing comments simply because of how someone is feeling. i’m not trying to be mean, but the simple truth is that, most of the time, so many negative things and emotions happen because of a malnourished heart. and call me crazy, but rather than relishing in malnourishment together, i want to thrive together. i don’t know exactly what that looks like. i think it’s different around the people and circumstances. but the fact of the matter is that indifference isn’t really my go-to option anymore…candor is.
when i was starting this list someone told me that they couldn’t even think of fifteen things they were grateful for…and that just broke my heart. because if that person stopped and really started writing, i bet they could write twice as many things as i have. i don’t know what is stopping them from trying. fear? pride? shame?
and on that same note, what’s stopping you?? do you think you’ve got this mastered already? do you think it’s silly? whatever your reason is, i would suggest putting down that wall and letting yourself experience this. there was just something about putting the pen to the paper and writing these all out.
i’m really proud of accomplishing this and i’m excited for what life is going to throw my way in order to test and solidify these practices. but who knows, if i feel myself sliding back, maybe i’ll do this for another hundred days…