Sunday, April 22, 2012

Giving thanks: How do I count the ways?

I didn't jump on the list-making bandwagon last year with the popularity of Ann Voskamp's lovely book, One Thousand Gifts. I read Ann's work every chance I get, and I have given several copies of this book to friends, but I did not take the list plunge with pen in hand.
 I am just not a list-maker. I can make a list. I sometimes make a list. But I do not typically live off a list. I prefer to write about one thing at a time. To contemplate a thing, to swaddle it in words like wrapping a newborn, rather than to list it. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
Counting blessings would be the easy part; letting our blessings change our countenance -- now that's tougher. 
I get the exercise. It helps us to begin to notice small joys and blessings we might otherwise pass by and not regard as a gift from God. I can see that it is a valuable step, but there's more. If we are truly grateful, a list of gifts serves as a counterweight to the burdens we carry day to day. Gratitude changes us. Gratitude lightens the heart, lifts the spirit, and even reveals joy and life in the eyes. It softens a facial expression. Deep creases and furrows morph into curves, and I've seen corners of the mouth lift visibly.  Thankful people are simply more pleasant to be around than constant complainers.
There is an elementary writer's tip high school students learn: Show it, don't tell it. So if 'the Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy,' let it show in our countenance! Thanks be to God.

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