It's Five Minute Friday - a blogging flashmob of writers all over the internet joining together to write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing!) on a prompt provided by the lovely Lisa-Jo, then linking up and sharing some comment love. Head here for more details, more posts, and to join in!
So, since last Thanksgiving, I've been counting gifts. Three a day, every day, and I've almost reached five hundred. It's nice to turn the pages in my little red notebook and see how many I have to pass over in order to find an unfilled one, and it's encouraging to look back and see how many weekly gratitude posts I've published between then and now. But the best part is when I see changes in my attitude and outlook. Change happens so slowly that it can be hard to spot because we acclimate to it as it happens - but every so often, I startle myself by reacting in a wholly different manner than I would have six months ago.
For example, Tuesday was a wonderful day - I got to spend an hour walking and talking to a friend (I've never been surrounded by a circle of girl friends, so the conversation was a refreshing rarity, as was finding someone who was willing to meet on a trail instead of in a coffee shop) and spend a few minutes with Adam (who was supposed to be 150 miles away, but had to give someone a ride back to Little Rock) which was so encouraging, and I was happy and spontaneous and decided to splurge on a not-half-price-for-Happy-Hour drink from Sonic... which I dropped all over my car, myself, and the ground as soon as I got home. I stood there looking at the cracked and crumpled lid, the shattered styrofoam cup and the ice sparkling in the sun, with sticky Coke dripping off my elbow, and after a brief moment of sadness, I was able to see the beauty in the wreck. I sat Brooklyn down on the front seat of my car with the keys to entertain her, dug my camera out of my bag, and took a picture that will last a lot longer than my drink would have. There was plenty to be grateful for that day - not only did my spilled soda not quench that, I was able to find joy in that, as well.
But what's really brought that change to my attention has been resistance. Every Thursday I link up with a couple of other ladies to write about that week's gifts, and highlight either a specific gift or a lesson in gratitude learned. Yesterday's post fought back. I had a picture, I had a plan, it was mostly written in my head so all I would need to do was type it out... yeah, no. My thoughts were scattered, and a hard-fought paragraph in I took a break and an afternoon nap while Brooklyn had her afternoon nap and the soothing rhythm of much-needed pouring rain darkened the room and deepened my rest. When I woke up I scrapped everything I had written and wrote a completely different post (inspired by the same event). It ended up being a lesson-learned post instead of a something-that-happened post, and I'm grateful even for that resistance that forced me to change, because it would have been shallower otherwise.
So today I have, perhaps, an odd gift to add to my list: I'm grateful for gratitude. For the choice given to me to praise God in His sovereignty for everything that happens, whether I see it as "good" or not. For the cause-and-effect that that choice has, of gratitude leading to joy. And for the weight of small changes, adding up to a greater affect that shows how the slow erosion of consistent gratitude can soften and reform even my stone heart.
If you've read One Thousand Gifts and/or been counting gifts, have you noticed a change in your outlook? (If you haven't read the book or started jotting down gifts, I highly recommend it!)