In my home, we have this big jar that sits on the fireplace mantle. This jar serves one purpose, and one purpose only: to hold in it all of the things my family is thankful for.
Now obviously we don’t physically stuff all of the things that we are thankful for into this jar, but it holds in it a symbol of our thankfulness for those things. Here’s how it works: every time someone in my family recognizes their feelings of thankfulness for someone or something, we write that thing down on a little piece of note-paper and add it to the jar.
My family began this project several years ago and, at the time, I was in a season of loneliness and disappointment. Though I have always appreciated what this jar stood for, I don’t think I ever really understood the significance of it until now. Let me explain…
As a young 20-something, I am part of a selfish generation. A generation who is always wanting something bigger and better than what we currently have. And I’m not saying all of this in a condemning way (because I’m as guilty of it as the next person), but I do think it’s something that we should be aware of.
We are a selfish generation; an inwardly focused people.
The problem with this is that it often leaves us feeling unsatisfied and, in my experience, dissatisfaction and a desire for something other than what you already have can leave you feeling… stuck.
I don’t know about you, but there have been many seasons of my life where I have felt at a complete standstill because I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to go somewhere different, do something else, and live a different life than the one I was already living. And, if I’m being completely honest, I am in one of those seasons now.
I have been so down for the past few weeks simply because I am stressed out and unsatisfied, which I recognize is a very selfish thing to say, but I am not ashamed to admit that I am far from perfect and often very selfish (something to work on).
Anyways, over the course of the past few days I have been thinking a lot about my present circumstances and have come to a conclusion: my dissatisfaction is coming from a lack of thankfulness in my life. Ouch.
I’m not sure what triggered this (probably the Lord), but today I remembered the thankfulness jar (something I haven’t thought about for a long time). I remembered how my feelings of disappointment and heartbreak would melt away as I would read all of the little notes in that jar. I remembered how thankfulness brought a joy to my heart that could not be found anywhere else. I remembered the exchange of depression and sadness for thankfulness and joy.
I think that oftentimes in life we can (unintentionally) allow our inward focus to take over our emotions. If we’re not discipling our minds to think from a heavenly perspective, then the constant pursuit of empty dreams will make us weary.
So, here is my challenge to you (and me) today: take the time to be thankful. Appreciate those around you and let them know how loved and valued they are. Be thankful for the things that you do have rather than lusting for the things that you don’t. Look back on some of your fondest memories and be thankful that they happened; look to the future and be thankful for what is to come. But most importantly… stop and appreciate where you are right now, in this moment. Take the time to be thankful for the present.
Thankfulness destroys discontentment and leaves a heart once broken filled with joy.