The last couple weeks have been hard. There's no getting around it. Most of us sat at home New Year's Eve with a glass of something sparkly, breathing a reserved sigh of relief that we could walk away from 2020 and into something new, even if it was a measly blank page on the calendar. A new year usually feels full of hope and the possibility of change and clean slates and . . . . well, you know what happened instead.
If you're alive right now, you've probably had to make some hard decisions like I have about group gatherings, when to speak and when to zip it. You've had to pay attention and look for ways to make your kids feel safe and find footing for yourself emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You've had to decide who you want to share space with. I hope you've had someone to talk it all out with, someone who makes you feel safe. I've been studying Colossians, and yesterday, after a sob fest had hanging over my journal at the dining room table, I read a passage that became a flat and sturdy place to take a step and hoist myself up.
This is Colossians 3:15-17
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Today I admonish myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ to live out our calling to be peacemakers (also to read the rest of this chapter, because it has some real no-brainer "ideas" for how to be a decent human). In his 1934 book, "The Cross of Peace," Sir Philip Gibbs writes (and Martin Luther King Jr. later echos) "Modern progress has made the world a neighborhood, and God has given us the task of making it a brotherhood." It seems to me that Paul believes the best posture to assume while doing this work is one of gratitude. I like how he makes a full stop in that passage, emphasizing "And be thankful."
I've been working on a little project the last couple of weeks that I thought was going to be a gratitude notepad, but after pricing out the printing, it just doesn't make sense to put the time into it. Instead, I'm giving you the file as a gift. Print out several sheets and keep them by your bed, in your journal, on the fridge. Write down what makes you grateful, especially when it's difficult.
I chose a quote by Anne Frank for this piece: "Thank you God for all that is good and dear and beautiful." It's not the profound use of language here that makes it cut to your heart. It's knowing that she gave thanks in the midst of the darkest dominion of evil that modern history has witnessed.
I know this isn't the feel-good, fluffy type of post you're used to here, and a gratitude list is not a revolutionary idea, but this is what I can do right now with my brush and my "pen." I hope it's an encouragement to you today. Be thankful.