Happy Thanksgiving – Another Kind of List

I found my way into my share of trouble as a kid. Now don’t get me wrong, I had a sharp mind, however often lacked focus on positive outcomes, or so my parents and teachers said. And back then there was no diagnosis of ADH…something — and so I found myself often writing on the blackboard or Big Chief pad 500 times “I will NOT…talk in class, chew gum, look on my neighbors paper, lean back in my desk, horseplay, etc..”, you get the picture!

I became quite a good list maker — of the wrong things. Unintentional I’m sure, but most of the adults in my life helped me fill notebooks of thou shalt nots which included my religious upbringing as well. The message in my head was that I somehow didn’t measure up. I was learning to keep score of my faults and shortcomings. But was there another kind of list?

Gratitude lists are a staple among those in the recovery community. For those struggling with the disease of addiction, a constant listing of shortcomings and screwups brings little upside. Stinkin’ Thinkin’ is what it’s termed and there’s no healthy space for this self flagellating and defeating mindset. 

On the road of recovery the tool of making a daily gratitude list can begin to break through a lifetime of negative self talk and putdowns. Beginning to recognize even the smallest of positive blessings and happenings can begin to chip away at a mountain of negativity and become the building blocks for a new way of living and seeing the world. 

Action. It was Henri Nouwen who said “You don’t think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking.” A gratitude list is taking an action, a new way of living, that can cause you to see the world in a different light. 

Thanksgiving is this week and it may provide a practical reset button if you find yourself in a place of Stinkin’ Thinkin’. At family gatherings and elsewhere conversations are likely to center on blessings, giving of thanks, and gratitude. 

What would it look like to springboard from this annual gratitude gathering — and take it a step further and begin a daily gratitude list. Could you over this holiday season take time each morning to begin your day by writing down some simple words, or more, about what you’re grateful for?

OK? I’ll begin by giving you just a few things I am grateful for today:

  1. A friendship with a grace filled God who pursues and welcomes with open arms little boys and grown men who don’t always get it right, like me!
  2. A wife, children, spouses and grandkids who live by a creed (which hangs on the wall of our homes) — We do second chances, we do grace, we do real, we do mistakes, we do loud really well, we do I’m sorry, we do hugs, we do family, we do love.
  3. A meaningful calling in life and ministry of serving the least, the lost, and the lonely as a community pastor in my city.
  4. A supportive group of friends, neighbors, churches, and organizations who believe in the work of Loving Community and generously donate financially allowing us to live out our calling of joining God in what he is doing.
  5. A wonderful community of volunteers from high school kids to senior adults who I get to serve alongside and love on people, being the hands and feet of Jesus.
  6. Our dog, Boomer!

So that’s a few of mine, how about yours?

With A Grateful Heart — Happy Thanksgiving!

Jim

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