Often friends encourage me without them even knowing they’ve done so, and sometimes they humble me as well.
Today a friend told me she keeps a gratitude list. She’s been keeping it for four years.
I started a gratitude journal way back in 1998. Want to guess how many pages I wrote in it? Nine and a half.
What’s odd is that I enjoy writing tremendously, so why couldn’t I fill all the pages of that journal full of words of thanksgiving and gratefulness and start another one? Actually, I should have an entire bookshelf of gratitude journals by now. But I don’t.
So I’m feeling humbled by this friend who has so much more faithfulness than me at being grateful and documenting her thankful thoughts. It’s obviously something I need to improve or at least attempt.
I rummaged through my desk drawer and dug out my lovely 1998 gratitude journal, a gift from a good friend. On the front page, she wrote this: “Take a moment each day and write down five things you are grateful for. It could be a moment, event, or just something that brought a smile to you today. Let me start by sharing how much I appreciate your support and friendship. You are truly ‘a very best friend’!”
This friend and I became acquainted through our children’s elementary school when we both served as PTA officers. I jokingly told her when we met that we would become “best friends” as we would work so closely together on school functions. We joked about that a lot, but we really did become close friends and even now, so many years later, we still sign our Christmas cards “from your very best friend!”
I noted that her entry in my journal was dated April 5, 1998. I wrote this three days later: “I am so thankful for friends like K [she gave me the journal] who brighten my day; friends like KL who can give me godly and wise advice; that Mom is experiencing God’s power and peace while she’s dealing with her cancer diagnosis; that our gracious and loving Lord not only hears our prayers but answers them; for my children’s, husband’s, and my good health.”
I continued to write a paragraph or two from April through June. And then the writing stopped. Is it a mere coincidence that I discontinued writing the day after my family and I moved back to the homeland? I don’t know. Life was extremely unsettled then and my mother was dying of cancer. I spent a lot of time in prayer during that time, but maybe my feelings and emotions were just too raw to put into ink on paper.
Over the years, I’ve picked up this small bound book with the floral design on the front, read what I previously wrote, and closed the book again without writing one paragraph. I could excuse myself by saying I was too busy planning my new home, raising my children, running to sports events, getting involved in church and school volunteering, but I know I was thankful for many, many occurrences, large and small, in my life. So why didn’t I take a moment to chronicle them? It’s a puzzle to me.
Perhaps it is a lack of discipline on my part. I failed to note over 10 years of thankfulness in written form, but looking back over those years, I can recall much for which my heart is grateful. But the day-to-day items, the usual but not insignificant blessings I’ve experienced, those are tucked away in my mind’s memory bank like old, faded mementos buried in a dusty trunk in the attic and forgotten.
But there’s so much to be thankful for.