The following is a guest post by Jeri Ford (my lovely wife).
What I love about this post is that it openly discusses a struggle we all have – ignoring the blessings of God. Sometimes people write about practices in theory. However, I can vouch for the fact that every night before praying with Jeri she writes in her Blessings Journal.
Count your blessings.
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings.
See what God has done…
I grew up singing that song in church. I’ve been singing it for years, but haven’t necessarily always practiced what I sang.
A couple of years ago, I was going through a bit of a rough time. Not that I was having any crises. It’s just that discontentment was being bred in my heart by a few inconveniences in my life. I didn’t like what it was doing to me. I noticed I wasn’t smiling as much as I usually do. I complained a lot more, and over all, I just didn’t feel content.
One thing that is such a struggle for me here in PNG is grocery shopping. It was becoming a constant source of frustration to me when I would go to town for my weekly shopping and come back feeling defeated because I couldn’t find what I needed. I came back sweaty, tired, and without everything checked off my list. It was frustrating, and I would allow those two (dreadful) hours to dictate the rest of my day. In reality, I dreaded it for at least an hour beforehand, so that made the experience even longer!
I recognized that something needed to change. I couldn’t let such small things disrupt my joy in Christ.
At church services recently, after Craig preached about our blessings, he allowed people to share the good things God has done for them. I was amazed at the things the Papua New Guineans said. Actually, it was more of a slap in the face for me. For many of them, the only real blessings they could think of were their brothers and sisters in Christ and their relationship with God. That was solely what sustained them in their tough times. What an incredible testimony of God’s love and their faithfulness! Others mentioned blessings like family, but those mentions nearly always had a caveat of some kind. For example, one man thanked God for his wife, even though they were separated right now. Another woman thanked God that the last time her husband beat her when he was drunk, her arm didn’t actually break. It was just a little sore. (She’s been hospitalized from past beatings.)
When I think of my inconveniences, they pale in comparison to the sometimes horrific experiences others have. Surely, if these people can find something for which to thank God in the midst of pain, I have many blessings to count.
So, how do we go about counting our blessings? I think it has to be purposeful.
Two years ago, Craig gave me a calendar for Christmas. I realized that it had plenty of space for journaling every day, so I decided that I would start writing at least 3 blessings every night before I went to sleep. As I did this, I realized that I was focusing more on the good things in my life, rather than the small annoyances. I started recognizing the blessings in my life as gifts straight from God. Nowhere else could I find so much contentment. Those blessings started giving me energy to get rid of some of the bad attitudes I’d had.
Here are some of the things I’ve written in my Blessings Journal over the past couple of years:
- I have enough money to buy whatever I want when I grocery shop. (This was especially a significant realization, considering my shopping woes.)
- Finding a note from my daughter in my closet
- Laughing with Craig
- Making my daughter giggle
- Time to walk and pray alone this morning
- Beautiful weather
- Playing piano duets with my Mom
- Teaching the baby Bible class
- A refreshing shower after a hot day
- Getting an email from a good friend
- Hearing my 4-year-old say, “Maybe we can give some of our kool-aid or tea to the people in Japan because they might not have any.”
Craig’s book, Transforming Your Financial Diet, urges readers to take an inventory of their blessings. It’s been a challenge for me, but my Blessings Journal has helped me on that journey of counting my blessings. Once we realize just how blessed we are, we can allow ourselves the pleasure of giving to others and looking outside of our own “troubles”.
I’m doing my best to recognize even the small ways that God blesses me every day. I plan to continue my Blessings Journal in 2012. If you’ve never tried something like that, I encourage you to give it a try. It’s even a blessing to go back and re-read those entries as a reminder of God’s goodness.
Count your many blessings.
Name them one by one.
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.