Happy Friday, readers! Admittedly, today’s post is short and coming to you without my usual round of edits. This week, I find myself knee-deep in potty training both big kids, because it’s past time and it has.to.be.done. The 3-kids-in-diapers thing is wearing me out … then again, so is scraping poo out of tiny underpants. As you can see, it’s a no-win situation [insert tired laugh here] …
… At any rate, since returning to blogging after Anni’s birth, I haven’t crafted or planned out any themes … but as January progresses, I’m seeing the theme of thanksgiving emerge. Perhaps God has placed this on my heart because He knows how desperately I need it—and how key it is to walking the life of faith:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV, emphasis added).
Not long ago, I found myself in the middle of a “stress cluster.” You know, when Murphy’s Law operates in full effect, and you want to shut yourself in the pantry or somewhere quiet (and within reach of chocolate).
There was relational stress and outrageous toddler behavior and the physical fatigue of pregnancy. There was work stress and car repair delays and giant-sized messes everyday. And as a final wispy straw to break to camel’s back, our gas cooktop began clicking in a wonky, unstoppable manner. I think listening to that little clicking sound could be added to the list of torture tactics used to squeeze information out of terrorists (right alongside sleep deprivation and crying babies).
Nothing major, nothing life-shattering—just lots of little pebbles that fused to form one annoying boulder in my shoe. I’m guessing you can relate, as we all seem well acquainted with “first world problems.”
To my great relief, the maddening clicking cooktop issue turned out to be no match for a YouTube tutorial, a Q-tip, and a little acetone. Yes, in the midst of this cluster, the bright spot turned out to be the resolution of this small problem—a minor but very welcomed respite! We laughed at how this was the highlight of our week … but truly, my heart rejoiced that at least one problem found a swift remedy.
When life feels cloudy and dark, the slightest flash of light is a welcomed reprieve.
That little experience had me ruminating on the truth that in our everyday annoyances—both big and small—we still have reasons to give thanks. There are still bright spots waiting quietly to be discovered, like little gifts.
To see the stars shining in their brilliance, we have to turn out the surrounding, competing lights … and when we do? Then our eyes are able to download the majesty of God’s creative handiwork.
I’m finding the same is true in our lives: to see those bright spots, we’ve got to cut the competing negative, blinding lights that inaccurately signal everything is wrong, everything is broken! And isn’t it so often the small, frustrating annoyances that vie for our energy and ruin our joy?
I don’t know about you, but all too often I’m guilty of turning up the brightness on my negative thoughts and self-talk and self-focused perspective. I am reminded of how far my heart can stray from the life-giving words of Paul:
… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation … I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV, emphasis added).
What a reality check. If Paul learned contentment in the midst of his unending clusters of genuine stress and physical danger, then certainly so can I.
In her devotional, “Treasures & Riches,” author Rachel Crawshaw writes that—
Contentment is a matter of attitude, cultivated by living in the present—by being aware of and savoring the scents and smells and sounds and textures of your life.
I love this definition and find it both accurate and convicting. How guilty am I of missing the good right in front of me, right before my eyes!
This week, I challenge us both to search for the bright spots and savor the sensations of our days. May we turn out the competing lights of negativity, frustration, and self-pity, and comb the horizon for flickers of light, tangible evidence of God’s goodness to and provision for us His children.
In the meantime, you can find me searching the horizon while keeping close tabs on two precious, pant-less children ;-).