Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.—2 Thessalonians 5:16-18
One of my biggest regrets in life is that I didn’t journal more. My excuse has been that, as a writer, I write enough every single day, thank you very much, and I didn’t need to add more writing to my load. But here I am approaching the golden years of my life, and what I would do to read more memories, good or bad, of days long past.
Though it’s too late to capture what’s so far behind me, a friend helped ease me back into journaling. Last Christmas, she gave me a thankfulness journal. Each day throughout the year, my mission was to record three things for which I was thankful. I was at once grateful but also apprehensive about being overwhelmed by having another thing on my list.
The year started off well enough: Our daughter gave us a restaurant gift card whose value, the server told us, was $1,000. “Are you sure you don’t want to order dessert?” he asked us. It turned out to be a systemwide error—as in every $50 gift card processed by the company rang up as $1,000 for the first few days after Christmas. But it was a good start to the year, nonetheless, and it made its way to my very first entry.
But then three days later, I lost my beloved Churchill, who had been my near-constant companion for more than 13 years. Though my heart was broken, I wrote how grateful I was he was no longer suffering. But two months later on March 7, a week before the pandemic caused nationwide lockdowns, my first entry was “Biscuit’s gotcha day!” We didn’t know at the time what a comfort our Golden retriever-Border collie puppy would be in the months to come.
Just two weeks later came nationwide lockdowns. Suddenly my husband, who had been working 60-hour weeks for a couple of years, was working full-time from home. Instead of only having a brief time together each weekday evening, we were now having lunch and dinner together each day, besides his frequent puppy breaks.
The following week, on March 25, our 11-year-old Border collie mix, Pepper, went missing when my husband turned his back to watch Biscuit. Our next-door neighbors and a contingent of people in the neighborhood in front of us mobilized to find her. Our neighbor’s dog finally spotted Pepper sinking into the muck around our lake. “WE FOUND PEPPER!!!” I excitedly wrote that night.
The following months brought a couple of quarantines in which our youngest son found himself briefly back home. As soon as the last quarantine lifted, our son began dating the woman who would change everything for him. I recorded my thankfulness for what God was doing July 4, the day of their first official date.
As I read through my entries, I see how isolation increased my gratitude for the people God has put in my life. Week after week, the highlights involving “seeing people!,” “friends and family,” “relationships” and “making the most of every moment.” These are things I might have taken for granted pre-2020 and pre-journaling.
The process has been a journey. Some days, I have known immediately for what I was grateful, and I’ve had to shorten the list for lack of space. Other days, in the midst of uncertainty and frustrations, I’ve dug a little deeper to find things for which to give thanks. But if I’m honest with myself, I realize I could never have enough room to record the blessings the Lord sends my way each and every day.
Take some time to give thanks each and every day, even on those days when you have to dig deep to find a reason. Let the spirit of thanksgiving transcend the hardships and heartbreaks before you. Each moment of each day is a gift. Rejoice and be glad in it.