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A New Way to Look at Gratitude

Thankfulness and gratitude are popular topics this time of year. Typically, I love thinking about them. This year, I think I wrote off being mindful of these topics because I was somehow too “busy.” I don’t know that it was a conscious decision to intentionally ignore them, I just haven’t taken much time to pause. Even writing this makes it seem silly. I mean, too busy to practice gratitude? Really, Amy?

That was until yesterday. Thankfully, a little lesson came my way. Let me explain what happened. It was somewhat of a backwards way to look at gratitude. I was excitedly opening a box that had arrived while my daughter was out. I didn’t want her to see it, so I waited until she was gone. I had been planning an advent small gift opening filled with all the things that get her excited during the Christmas season. Ingredients for homemade cookies, mod podge, paper for home-made snowflakes. All things crafty! As much as my daughter loves these things and as excited as I am about these projects, these are the very things I’ve been doing instead of pausing.

As I was opening the box, I sliced my right pointer finger. Since then I’ve needed to wear a bandaid right on the finger pad at the top. You know, the part of the finger that is used for basically EVERYTHING. That’s where I got my backwards lesson. As I’m typing this out and making all kinds of typing errors because of my bandaid, I am grateful. As I contemplate how I’m going to put my contacts in my eye, I am grateful. As I got out of doing evening dishes because my finger was bleeding into the soapy water, I was especially grateful. Who doesn’t like to get out of dishes? The reason I’m grateful is because it’s shown me how I go about my day to day life with all of my fingers without bandages and how much I use them for every single task. I never have to think twice about putting my contacts in, because I have ten intact fingers. How beautifully we were designed.

It wasn’t until I had one finger out of order that I’ve been absolutely mind blown about how much I get going with life and forget about how much there is to be grateful for.

It makes me think about something I read during seminary. Please forgive me…this was a long time ago so I may get the story mixed up a bit. While in seminary I happened to be reading a Buddhist book. Go figure. It happened to have small teachings in that were quite helpful and applicable. The one lesson that sticks out to me most from that book was about a toothache. It came up in my mind as I cut my finger yesterday because it had a similar plot. When we have a toothache, we are so aware of the pain in our mouth. But how often are we grateful and aware of a non-toothache? For me, that’s never!

As I’ve been thinking about this topic this week it led me to open up one of my favorite books. In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,” Brene Brown walks readers through ten guideposts to live a wholehearted life. Guidepost #4 was about cultivating gratitude and joy. She said when she interviewed people about wholehearted living, gratitude and joy almost always showed up together. The other thing she said showed up when talking about gratitude was the word practice. They talked about keeping gratitude journals, doing gratitude meditations or prayers, including gratitude in their artwork, or even just stopping during a busy day to ask themselves what they are grateful for in that very moment. It's the art of practicing gratitude that really makes it come alive in our hearts.

If you were to pause right now and ask yourself that question, what would it be?

Here are mine:

I am so grateful my kids are sleeping so I can write down these words

I am so grateful our bodies are so good at healing themselves and I will soon have ten functioning fingers

I am so grateful I get to do work I love

Oh, how I’ve been given so many gifts to be grateful for! As I continue to be a bit more mindful of these beautiful gifts heading into this holiday season, I invite you to join me. Happy rooting, everyone!

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