“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Are you a list maker? If you aren’t, allow me to introduce you to the inner-workings of my psyche. I make long-term to-do lists, daily to-do lists, personal to-do lists, grocery lists, home improvement project lists, packing lists—the “list” goes on and on! And yes, I have even been known to add making another list as a line item on my daily to-do list. It’s a little excessive, but for whatever reason, list making brings me a sense of comfort in my sometimes-chaotic life. Whenever I can see everything I need to accomplish written down and laid out before me, it makes me more focused and intentional on how I use my time. I also notice that as I cross items off a list one by one, the feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment that I get make me more confident, calmer and more joyful. For me, lists are a means to an end.
As I thought about my habit of list-making, it reminded me of the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. Voskamp’s book takes you on a journey of finding joy and gratitude through all seasons of life—those marked with happiness, those that seem mundane, and those that bring sorrow. Her charge to the reader is to begin journaling one’s “gifts” – things that you are grateful for. As she tells her story and shares many of her own gifts, you begin to see that there is so much more to be grateful for than we ever realize.
Sometimes, living with a spirit of gratitude comes easily to us, and sometimes it is more difficult to be grateful. I believe that by identifying the things that we have been blessed with (and maybe even making a list of them), we are able to find gratitude in all times – the good, the bad and the in-between.
Morgan Jones, Director of Small Group Ministry