Begin With Thankfulness

It was the day that three strangers spoke encouraging words into my heart that I decided I wanted others to receive that same gift. Their gentle and warm nudges spoke so much encouragement into my tired and weary heart. It forever changed me and it didn’t take long before I had a desire for my husband to receive that same type of encouragement. I spent a few weeks longing for my husband to have that same experience and I was frustrated that others were not providing that for him.

I soon realized that it was ME that needed to take action rather than waste time in complaint.

The problem is, I had no idea how to pray and hear from the Lord. Yes I could pinpoint dozens of times when I saw God moving in my life and even nudging me to do things. But to sit down and actually pray for someone and seek to hear the Lord was completely different and foreign to me.

I was terrified.

We were in a season of our 3 year old getting out of bed after we laid him down for bed each night. I would sit ouside his door for about 20 minutes and take him back to bed multiple times until this transition and routine was set. I decided that every night as I sat outside of my 3 year old’s bedroom, I would utilize this alone time to pray for my husband. It was challenging for me, and I had to practice understanding how to hear His voice as well as having the Faith that I could actually hear the God of the universe.

In that season, I realized that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). If my intentions to pray for my husband were pure and full of love, then the words of encouragement and affirmation were good and perfect gifts.

My Father did not need me to be perfect, He only needed my heart.

He would use my willingness and desire to please Him through loving my husband. That understanding grew my ability to hang onto Faith the size of a mustard seed; Faith that I could pray and hear affirming words from the Lord to share with my husband.

Faith in my ability to hear encouraging words from the Father grew as I began to act out my new knowledge of the verse in James 1:17. If every good and perfect gift is from above, then I wanted to start taking notice of everything around me that was good.

My mind began to shift to an act of thankfulness in every moment of life.

My posture changed to a heart of gratitude for everything that was good. If someone unexpectedly paid for my coffee at Starbucks, I would whisper to myself, “Thank you God”. When I’m running late to an appointment and the traffic light turned green, “Thank you God”. There were always those tiring days when I didn’t know what to cook for dinner and I had not been to the grocery store. Yet I would open the freezer and oftentimes receive a quick thought about what items to use to create a quick and tireless meal. “Thank you God”.

I began to realize that there are so many things in my life that are good, and they all came from my Father. The more I took notice, the better I could sense His presence. As I postured my heart to thank Him for daily provisions, my mind began to grow in understanding just how good He is. As I pondered all the goodness that He continually pours out into my life, I began to grow in my ability to hear His heart towards me and those around me.

Begin with thankfulness.

My constant questions and impatient requests to hurry ceased to stop the afternoon that I was standing in line at the grocery store with my young children.

My 4 year old and 6 year old were counting their change to offer to the clerk for their exciting purchase. They had been saving their offering money for a long time, and were waiting for the perfect opportunity to bless someone. They had chosen to purchase needed items for the animal shelter and were very excited about it.

As they delicately counted their money, the way that young children do, the line of people standing behind us got longer and longer. My anxiousness grew quickly as their faces changed to reveal impatience, and stances grew colder as each second passed.

Every part of me was ready to grab their $ out of their hands and count it out quickly. I would hand it over to the woman behind the counter as fast as I could, while simultaneously apologizing over and over to the disgruntled people standing in line. I could not bare the thought that we were making people unhappy.

We are taught to model patience to our children by allowing them to move at their own pace. We are instructed by educators to allow life experiences to teach children, such as learning money skills with actual purchases, But when you set out to accomplish these great feats, you sometimes don’t calculate the problems that arise as you are teaching these concepts. My first thought is generally geared towards pleasing those around me.

“Hurry, let’s quickly pay this woman so that the people behind us don’t have to wait!”

But in that moment I realized that I’m teaching them something else that will transfer to them if I don’t grab hold of my issue and shut it down. I’m teaching them that they are less important to me than a stranger.

I’m showing them in real-time that speed and moving quickly is far more important than care, love, and patience for those less able to do a task. I’m creating a thought process that speaks that it is better to make people around you happy, no matter the cost.

If I choose to let anxiousness rule over me and stranger’s impatient looks dictate my actions, I cannot tell my children to open the door for an elderly person and wait for several minutes as the older woman struggles to get to the door. I cannot teach my daughter to be patient with her brother as he tries to get a story out of his mind and into spoken words.

Our culture has become very entitled and expects all things and all people to be fast-paced. That is not realistic, as we were not created to excel in all things, at all times. If we were, there would be no need for a savior.

Creating little people that grow up to serve and love others where they are at, rather than where we think they should be? Is that my desire? Then I have to model that.

So in that moment, I decided that today would be the day. Today I would be that mom that doesn’t make decisions to influence what others think. Today I will be the mom that encourages her children to count their money rather than to hurry. Today I will choose my children over the positive thoughts from a stranger.

We are raising warriors, children that will love and serve others. Children that will grow to see people rather than to pass over them or judge them. So if you were that person standing in line and annoyed at having to wait an extra 5 minutes at the check-out stand that day.. I’m sorry that you had to wait an extra 5 minutes, but I’m happy that you got to see love-in-action.