November 26, 2020

give thanks

 "Counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems. No matter our situation, showing gratitude is a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription." -Russell M. Nelson

Gratitude: seeing the good, feeling appreciation and love, reframing the negative to notice the positives, swelling hearts, finding peace and joy that no one can take from you

I have so many blessings. So do you. I'm certain many of our blessings are the same. Yet many are quite different. We both know some of these joys. But some of them I have and you yearn for. Some other things you have and I yearn for. 

Filling our hearts with gratitude and counting our blessings--focusing in on the good that surrounds us--can replace the things that weigh us down with deep joy.

I used to feel so guilty to receive help from others. By the end of my cancer treatments, my list was LONG of all the people that had served us and all the ways we had been lifted. I felt guilty that someone would "have" to watch Brinna or "have" to make us a meal or "have" to give one of my kids a ride. You know what though, we needed that help. There was no way around that. So instead of guilt and feeling bad, I've been learning to replace those feelings with deep gratitude for all the people and all the ways. Instead of feeling "I'm sorry you had to help me," I realize what I really feel is "Thank you so much for helping me. I appreciate it with all my heart."

One of my favorite stories that completely shifted my way of thinking was by Corrie Ten Boom. As prisoners in a concentration camp during nazi ruled Germany, Corrie and her sister looked around in dismay and horror at their barracks. Conditions were unimaginable and Corrie wondered how they could live like this--especially with all the fleas. Corrie's sister adopted an attitude of humility and gratitude. She gave thanks for everything around her. She tried to seek the good that could come and offer thanksgiving to her heavenly father, even for those fleas. Oh, I'm sure this was not easy! There is nothing easy about offering thanks to God in your prayers for the fleas that cover your bed. But over time, they learned that because of those fleas they actually ended up getting even greater freedom to talk together and minister to each other and read the Bible because the guards and supervisor refused to come in due to those fleas!

This last year or so, I have been weighed down by so many things. I have felt intense pain. I have felt discouraged and depressed. But what has helped me to keep going was to stop and notice all the good around me, to recognize the good that is coming from all those things that bring me pain, and then to let myself feel gratitude for these experiences and for all the little and big blessings in my life.

Our prophet encouraged us to use social media as a gratitude journal for one week. I have recently given myself more social media boundaries that I feel strongly that I need to stick to. It just wasn't the time for me to be posting daily. However, I have been following his counsel in other ways. I have been trying to be more deliberate about filling my thoughts and heart with thanksgiving. I am taking time in my thoughts to notice blessings all around me. I have been trying to be more specific about those things I am grateful for in my prayers. I am just increasing my gratitude little by little. And you know what, seeing all the things in my life that I can give thanks for does help me feel lighter and more at peace.

I learned a lot by reading other people's instagram posts of thanksgiving. There were many heartfelt posts that opened my eyes and richly blessed me. But it was also really triggering for me to see so many posts of things that I righteously yearn, wish, desire, or just plain feel jealous of. I have to keep myself in check and remind myself that I have blessings, too. They might be different than someone else's but that is ok. We are different. We have different struggles and different blessings. Good in one person's life does not mean my life is bad. There is enough good for all of us to enjoy. We can celebrate how blessings are different and varied! Our Heavenly Father knows us individually and gives us individual experiences. And he loves variety! So it makes sense that we do not all have the same. We all have struggles of some sort. But let's be glad of each other's blessings!!

Things that I give thanks for:

-my pain and my trials because they have helped me develop greater compassion and growth and deeper connection 

-the safety and comfort of our beautiful home and neighborhood

-the sky! the hope of the rising sun, the clouds, the colors of the sunset, the stars, the moon. I feel closest to God when gazing up at the sky

-mountains, rivers, oceans, and lakes because of their beauty and their fun and the ways that I can move and adventure in them

-my Eric who has helped me to heal mentally, emotionally, and physically. His care, compassion, and patience (great patience!). 

-the safety and connection from a marriage you have worked for

-Kyler, Kacin, Perry, Layla, and Brinna! They are my light, my peace, my teachers, my hope, my joy, and my heart 

-texting, marco polo, facetime, instagram, blogging, an awesome camera on my phone because of the ways these things allow me to connect and learn from others

-angels on earth and angels in heaven

-the small, personal ways that God reminds me He is there and He knows me and will always help me

-words! to read and write and express myself and learn from

-movement! moving my body through dance, hiking, walking, swimming, etc helps me express my emotions and work through my worries and anxiety

-a body that teaches me that I have limits AND I am strong. 

-my sense of sight, taste, smell, hearing, and touch because of the ways each sense uniquely allows me to richly experience the world. 

-music that fills my soul and body and expresses all of the fun, love, pain, joy, beauty, etc of life

-modern medicine and good doctors to keep me ALIVE and healthy

-deep breaths in and out

-my gift of discernment that I am learning to recognize and trust

-clothes that are comfortable, clean, and help me express myself or ready myself for the things I do and experience

-professional counseling and emdr to help me process trauma

-vulnerability and honesty. some of the greatest ways I have connected, learned, and grown is because either I or others around me have allowed themselves to be open and true.

-the holy ghost! I need the inspiration, comfort, and truth the spirit brings into my life each day

-my Savior who knows me and has suffered for me and brings me peace

I feel like this list is really just the tip of the iceberg! I have SO much to be thankful for when I stop and think about it. 

I give thanks to God for allowing me to live this rich, purposeful life! There is bad on this earth and in our lives, but there is so much more good!!