Sunday, November 21, 2010

Counting Blessings

Tonight I was going to write a post lamenting the trials and tribulations of being an adult. The ones that make you want to take Peter Pan's stance and sing, "I won't grow up." Because when I was a kid I didn't have to deal with the heavy-duty stuff that I do now. Like paying bills. Like doing yardwork. Like having a rock fly up and hit my windshield on my home today, leaving my windshield with a nice crack in the middle of it that is yet another unexpected expense.

I was going to write about the burdens of having to make tough decisions in virtually every area of my life, from finances to career to health to relationships. But when I sat down to write, a certain song popped into my head:

  1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
    • Refrain:
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
  2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
    Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
    Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
    Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
  4. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
  5. ("Count Your Blessings", Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1897)

And so, instead of focusing on the things that I consider to be burdensome about life right now, I'm going to focus on the blessings. It's certainly appropriate with Thanksgiving coming up in a few days, but I want it to be more than just a Thanksgiving-week focus. I want it to become such a habit that whenever I start to complain about something (whether aloud or just to God), I want to automatically shift my focus to things to be thankful for.

Something I've done at times over the years is to try to write in my journal each night a brief list of blessings from the day. Sometimes they're big blessings, like an answered prayer or an unexpected bonus; other times, they're small but still significant. It's been a while since I've done that so I think it's time to start keeping that list again. It will not only help me focus on my blessings but will also be a great way to remind me of ways that God blesses me that I tend to forget about.

Anyone else have any tips or tricks for having a thankful heart and not focusing so much on worries?

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