I've known this hymn for as long as I can remember, and yes, I must sheepishly admit that the above photos are of the flag hanging just outside my front door. However, its words are coming home to me in new ways recently as I continue my journey toward a thankful life. Thursdays are still for thankfulness, but I am ever so slowly learning that every day is the right day to live a life of gratitude.
Unfortunately, I lose perspective in the daily-ness of life,
of my life,
of my life in a household
colored by the autism spectrum.
Someone in my house has been struggling with obsessive thoughts, busy little spiders that stay up too late at night and wake up early some mornings, seemingly before the boy has raised his head from the pillow. And so my/his day begins.
- "So, Mom, God's not like this, right, he wouldn't wake you up to think about giving away your antiques, right?"
-Or, "God will never ask me to give away all of my antiques, would He?"
-Or, "They don't need antiques, right? They need money and clothes and love, but not antiques, right?"(He's worrying because he recently heard on the news about a family that lost their house in a fire.)
I cannot get inside his head and sort out the sticky threads that make up this web where he's been snagged. It's part recently awakened sensitive conscience, part obsessions of the spectrum, part trust issue, part medication which could be making this issue worse.(or better?), part "unknown."
I can listen, I can pray, I can give him ideas for thoughts that could replace this one. I can reassure him that God is in fact not like that. Rather, that God wants him to enjoy these simple pleasures, that God doesn't want him to be miserable, that God can be trusted with this treasure, with all our treasures, that when the time comes to give things up, he/we will know, and God will help him/us want to let go. And some days some of those things help. A little bit. Some days.
my gratitude list.
Oh that. The gratitude list. Yes, I'm still at it. It's been three years and counting, literally. The numbers are in the seven thousands, and this week my note book will be completely filled, and I'll have to figure out what to do next. I've been contemplating bringing this project to an end…after all, the goal was, initially, a list of One Thousand Gifts based on an idea from a blog written by Ann Voskamp who would later write a book by the same title. So, I've more than achieved that goal. But what about the bigger goal, the development of a life of gratitude?
Okay. So I have a ways to go. But oh, how far I've come.
You might not know that I used to be an "all or nothing" kind of girl. When life was good, it was fantastic, unbelievable, phenomenal. And when life was hard, it was hard…ly worth living. If a day had a rough patch in it, I considered that day ruined. Of course the problem seemed to be that life was often hard, and most days were patchy and far from perfect, ie, in my mind, a complete loss. Which is no way to live a life.
But I've learned a few things along the way; in the past decade or so, I've discovered the value in choosing to "count your blessings, name them one by one…count your many blessings see what God has done."
My list of gratitude has only served to strengthen that perspective.
However, I'm realizing I've gotten a little sloppy in my watchfulness. Having to recapture the joyful minutiae of last Thursday kind of misses the point of living thankfully each day.
Plus, it's not all that easy to remember, partly because I've learned so well to live "in the moment," partly because my memory isn't as young as it used to be, and partly because life with a person on the autism spectrum is intense. (INTENSE!!)
This is the area where I still struggle to bring together my life and my list. A significant verse that "came with" Youngest Mystery is James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change..." Right here, in the middle of days like this one (and probably tomorrow too) I want to watch for every gift, to receive with thankfulness all that comes from God's hand. Yes I want to help this one become all he can be, overcome all that causes him to stumble, but I also want to see the gifts that he brings, the gift that he is.
This is the area where my watchfulness is most needed and least developed.
So, I guess I won't be ending my list-keeping any time soon. I still have some things to learn, some gratitude to grow in some dark corners of my life. Today was such a challenging day and tomorrow (morning!!) will be here soon, too soon. Please excuse me while I resume my list!
#7928..... You can read it tomorrow... -Hummin' B.