In a previous post I discussed what I did to set up a new Spiritual Journal and that his year I was going to use it to set myself a challenge. Now that we are over half way through the year, I was just reflecting on how its been so far and what I hope for the rest of the year.
At the beginning of the year when I started a new journal, I set myself the task of practicing more thankfulness. Each day I would record the thing that I was thankful for. Sounds like a simple task right? But actually saying thank you and being thankful is not as easy of a journey as it sounds.
Starting out with a blank canvas for month it seemed quite daunting. What would the month look like when it was finished? Could I allow myself to be thankful for the same thing multiple times in the month? Should I fill in days that I miss afterwards? Would putting rules and restraints on it remove the purpose?
When we come to God in prayer we tend to get into the habit of using our prayer life as a wishlist for God. Its easy to sit down and start listing all the things that we wish were different before recognising the things that are going well. It isn’t a bad thing for us to bring our needs and concerns to God, but it is easy to lose sight of the things that God is actually providing for us. In this modern world we are always looking out for the next thing that will improve our lives. We want to see results quickly, we cant wait for the light to turn green of its own accord, we have to wish it. We should slow down, and realize that things run on God’s timing and not our own.
I decided that this would work best if I just went with the flow. I wasn’t going to get annoyed at myself if I missed some days. Journaling within its self is a discipline that I can only manage if I keep it undemanding. Over the first month, I found that the thing I was most thankful for was the people around me. I know that sometimes I do forget just how blessed I am with all my friends, so it felt right to document those people in my journal. I can even remember what happened that day with those people.
It also taught me to be thankful for theological college and for all its weird and wonderful things. The start of the second term felt hard. Going back after the Christmas break was like being thrown right back into it. I had a Hospice placement almost as soon as we started back which really made me think about thankfulness. Some of it is also about seeing the things within myself that other people do. I often don’t just give myself enough credit for things like preaching a good sermon. Those things are important to be thankful for too. Whats the point of having these gifts if they are not utilized and used with gratification.
Thankfulness is not an easy task. Sometimes it is very difficult. Our personal difficulties and the sadness of life can become overwhelming, and there were/are days that I struggle to be thankful. Some months have been left almost totally blank. But that is why thankfulness is a journey. It is one of the things within my relationship with God that I will always be working on.
God continues to surprise me with this challenge, and I will probably carry on this new discipline into my next journals. Thankfulness is something that I will continue to journey on. There will never quite be enough thankfulness within me to compare with the love that God gives us all, but hopefully with this new discipline I can get a bit closer.
Peace and Joy.