The summer before I met my husband, I had read a book called The Fascinating Girl by Helen Andelin. I realized, after reading the book, that I had an overwhelming number of personal issues on which to work. I decided that during my senior year of college, I would focus on two things - being more girly in my dress/attitude/conversation and being more thankful.
The first part was relatively simple. I realized at that point that even though it is good sometimes to be a detailed perfectionist, it is not always a good thing. . . breathe a little. The second thing I realized was that being thankful was a lot of work. . .at first.
Fast-forward a few years. . .my husband and I were engaged. I asked him what first attracted him to me. He said that he was amazed at how thankful I was. I met my husband a little over a month after making my decision to be more thankful, so I was relatively new to the consistency of it; however, the fact that he loved how thankful I was really has stuck with me through the past few years. Being thankful will always be a work-in-progress, but I am really enjoying the journey.
I Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." I feel that this is very self-explanatory; however, would like to expound upon a few thoughts.
1. In the Bible, I see the words "commandment" and "will" as two different entities. "Commandment" is what God requires of us - it is what we must do or else. "Will" is what God wants us to do in order to accomplish His purpose for our lives. We will have happy lives if we live according to God's purpose for our lives.
Many seem to feel that God's will is an elusive thing. It isn't. God's will for us is to be thankful. When we are thankful, that leads to contentment. Let me illustrate.
I have been inside of many large, beautiful houses. Some I have visited, some I have cleaned, and some I have only observed quickly. I would love to have a beautiful (as far as the world considers) house. I could sit around all day and dream of the huge, beautiful house that I would like to have. Then, naturally, I would compare it to the house that really I have. Unfortunately, I would find my house severely lacking. I would become very unhappy in my cute, little kitchen. . .it is not a gourmet kitchen. I would become very unhappy in my bathroom. . .it is not a large, spacious bathroom. I would become unhappy with my living room. . . it is was not a living room that was designed by a famous person. The list could go on forever, and I would forever be unhappy.
However, if I can look at what I do have and be thankful, I can be happy for those who have large, beautiful homes, and be happy for me in my large, beautiful home. I am thankful that my home is large enough for my husband, myself, my dog, and maybe someday a few kiddos. I am thankful that God put our house in a location that seems more perfect every day. I am thankful that my house is a home.
I also have seen houses smaller than mine with more people living in it than I can imagine. I have seen houses dirtier than mine. I have seen houses full of people who are sadder than those in my house.
I am very thankful for the house God saw fit to provide for us. I am happy with my house, my husband, my God, my car, and my dog. I am thankful for my refrigerator, my cabinets, my sink, and my toilet. I am thankful for my bed, my couch, my dresser, and my closet. I am thankful for my 3/4 of an acre and for all the trees and flowers in my yard. I am happy when I think of my home.
2. God's will for our lives is to give thanks IN EVERYTHING. What is everything? Are we to be thankful that we found out we had a health issue? Yes. Are we to be thankful because we found out we owe the government more money than we thought? Yes. Are we to be thankful that someone has hurt us? Yes.
It is very difficult for our human flesh to comprehend this, but I believe thankfulness is God's cure. If I am thankful that I could show someone God's true love by having a good testimony when they hurt me, I allow forgiveness to enter my soul. If I am thankful that I have a health issue, I allow trust in God's plan for my life to enter my heart. If I am thankful for every petty problem, I allow myself to realize I don't have huge problems. I can move on in my life and help others.