Thursday, as you know, was Thanksgiving, and no matter how you spent your day, I hope it was wonderful. I hope you had at least one moment during that day where you could slow down and really thank God for the life you've been given and all that fills it. As an adult, Thanksgiving has snuck its way past Halloween as my second-favorite holiday, after Christmas. I love everything about it: the pumpkin pie; the slowing down; the coziness; the intentionality of being thankful. I think it’s such a shame it only comes once a year. I spent time Thursday thanking God for my family, my health, my job, and my home—all of which usually seem like a given, but I need days like this to realize that they're not.
When I started working at Willow, I heard something from a colleague that really challenged me: “If you strive for everyday balance, you will go crazy. But if you let yourself enjoy the busy and slow seasons when they come, your experience will be so much better.” I so wish I could do this, but instead of appreciating each season for what it is, I panic during the slow seasons that I'm not contributing enough, and panic during the busy seasons that I won’t have enough to get it all done. My life-scale is constantly tipping over with the "not enough"s. I realized the enormity of this problem when I read the following in Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection:
For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of … We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money, ever.
We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough—ever. Even before we sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack…
When you go back to work or school on Monday, my guess is that most of you will hear at least one person declare that, though they had a long weekend, it still wasn’t enough time off. Maybe that person will be you. Or me. But I don’t want to live like that anymore. I want every day to feel like Thanksgiving. I just don’t always know how to do that. But I recently discovered something that's beginning to help.
I've started bringing a loofah to the shower at my gym, and it's made such a difference in my mornings. I think gratitude is a lot like a loofah: the magic of the loofah can’t really be appreciated when you're looking at it alone; it needs to come into contact with soap, because when it does, the soap becomes richer, no matter how much or how little you have. It multiplies what you have into enough.
That is the math of the loofah and, I believe, the math of gratitude.
When we add gratitude to the mix, what we have is transformed. And our focus begins to shift to what is already present—the "enough"s—and we learn to become content instead of always longing for more.
I invite you to think through your own life. Maybe you need to spend some time thinking about blessings you haven’t thanked God for. Or maybe this has been a really hard season and you just need to ask God for help in seeing the "enough"s.
Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.