Thanksgiving is a hard holiday to celebrate when you live with a scarcity mindset. Each year Thanksgiving reminds us to count our blessings. I find that if I remember this practice only once a year, the practice feels forced, even mundane. As the retail industry’s most profitable time of year ensues, I too easily and quickly return to a mindset that reinforces a feeling of not enough: not enough money, not enough gifts, not enough time, not enough. Resources seem scarce. I find myself wishing for more and neglecting the very gifts I just said thank you for.
Beyond Counting Gifts
In her bestselling book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp urges us to adopt a lifestyle of counting gifts. I appreciate her book and it inspired me to start my own practice of counting gifts. But I confess that the list didn’t last long after I turned the last page of the book. While I agree that a practice of counting gifts can help change the mindset of scarcity in us, I also recognize in myself a tendency to focus on the duty of counting gifts. A good school girl like me needs something deeper than mentally counting gifts, checking that box off. I need a reminder to engage the gifts. To enjoy them. To fully embrace them before I can sincerely say thank you.
Learning to Live Thankful
I tasted an experience of living thankful while Steve and I waited on job applications and interviews shortly after we were married. We had moved back to his hometown to attempt to put down roots and start a family. Just shy of 2,000 people, his hometown presented a lifestyle very different from the big city suburbs of my childhood. At first it was all fairies and unicorns, the appearance of an idyllic life in a small town. But as real life struggles ensued, I found myself longing for the old neighborhood, the old life, remembering the perks, forgetting the drawbacks, as one does. After about a year of unsuccessfully attempting to secure the job we had come for, we faced the reality that this life we had envisioned would not pan out. Steve began to search for another job.
Steve applied to jobs locally as well as some back in our college town. I secretly hoped and prayed to start fresh in the college town we knew and loved. But while we waited through the period of applications and interviews, God challenged me with this: While you wait, focus on the present. Be thankful, and enjoy. Every day. Right where you are. “Be thankful and enjoy” became my mantra for the next four weeks.
I didn’t keep a journal of blessings. But I lived focused, noticing the gifts and entering into my life more fully. It was the perfect medicine for the waiting and unknowing. It took about a month to hear back from both jobs and of course, Steve was offered both. By the time he received the offers, I had so enjoyed and found gratitude for my right-then life that I didn’t want to leave anymore. I wanted him to take the job locally. I grieved much more deeply than I expected when Steve took the job offer that moved us away. But I am also more truly thankful and appreciative of that time.
Be Thankful & Enjoy
In this week of Thanksgiving, I am reminded of that lesson — to be thankful and enjoy. Dig your hands down deep into the soil of your right now life. Breathe deeply of your current circumstances both pleasant and even painful. And after you have received and fully embraced the gift of what is, give thanks to the God who gives it all.
What gifts are you taking into your arms and embracing today? This week? Please count them by sharing with me in the comments.