A few months ago at bible study, we started chatting about what we give thanks to God for. We realised that despite our best efforts, we too often take things for granted. One of the challenging questions raised was this: Imagine if the only things God gave you tomorrow were those things you thanked him for today?
I decided to challenge myself. I decided to intentionally give thanks to God, every day, for something that would otherwise be normal, ordinary, taken for granted. An easy way for me to start this challenge was to think about those things that made me smile, something happy-making – then I could take a moment to intentionally give thanks.
The first week went something like this: Monday’s happy thing, my morning coffee. Tuesday’s happy thing, my morning coffee. Wednesday’s happy thing, my morning coffee. You get the idea. My morning coffee still makes me smile, every day. (As does my mid-morning coffee, my afternoon coffee, my evening coffee… I love my coffee!) But I quickly realised a problem – not only was this defeated the purpose of trying to find something new to be happy about, but my gratitude was becoming commonplace again, getting dangerously close to nonchalance.
I re-considered my challenge to seek out a new thing, each day, to be happy about. Something exciting, something joyous, something I could (figuratively) write home about. I soon realised that I had set myself up for failure. Because as exciting as my life can be at times, I can’t expect there to be something profound every day of my life. And even if there was daily profundity, it would cease to be amazing simply due to its regularity (just like my coffee).
Once again I re-considered my goal. I would celebrate a different delight each day – but a small thing, something that could be seen as regular but today had made me happy. This has been quite effective and quite eye-opening. I have been discovering that there are little delights that spring into my life all the time. And in trying to see these as gifts, I try to take the opportunity to give thanks.
Here’s a smattering of what I’ve been thankful for this week: on Monday, I ran through a fetch of dragonflies; on Tuesday, a parishioner brought me some fresh asparagus from her garden; on Wednesday, I started reading a new novel. You get the idea – these are commonplace things, they’re nothing special. But I chose to see them through a lens of gratitude, thinking about everything that went into that little moment of delight.
And so my delight spreads. Some days it’s difficult to find those happy moments, other days I’m completely encompassed by them. But overall, I’ve found that the more I look for joy, the more I recognise its presence – and the more I have to give thanks for.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1 Thess 5.16-18