I used to let myself be completely swept away by what I was feeling... to let my feelings determine what I treated as truth... to let feelings form my perspectives on people. I still struggle against that.
I am learning, slowly, that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.
Who can know it?
One who has lived out that the feelings were reality, and bears deep scars as a reminder of my foolishness.
And giving thanks... what I record here each Monday... has been opening my eyes to many things.
Mostly, it has been showing me how much I haven't been seeing. How near-sighted and blind I really am. I say this as a woman who is legally blind. I know what it means to be extremely near-sighted.
Putting on an attitude of thankfulness has become my soul-contact lenses.
The clarity of all I had been missing has been startling.
I remember in junior high playing basketball as point-guard and my coach yelling to me with raised fist as I was bringing the ball up the court. At the next break-point he called time out and chewed me out for not following his direction by not putting the play in motion that he had signaled to me. From only a few feet away I had seen his raised hand, but couldn't see any fingers. That's how blind I am.
Wearing gratitude as a habit, as a lifestyle, adopting it as the only accurate perspective, has been like realizing at the optometrists that without the proper lenses I can't even make out the big top-of-the-chart "E" thanks, much less the moment by moment fine line thanks that takes serious focus to read properly.
Where feelings and vision overlaps for me is this: feelings strongly influence my vision.
I have had some glimmer of this when I have struggled with writing some Love Letters at Christmastime, depending on my current relationship with the family member I was writing to. I would be straining to write thank you for... while pushing down thought-feelings of woundedness, of being misunderstood, of anger over perceived selfishness etc.
But since practicing in everything give thanks, I had not yet been so challenged as I was these past few days.
I tried to think positive-thoughts, true things, to overcome the pain, anger, distrust, self-isolating to self-protect feelings I was being choked by. It wasn't working.
Then I read this from One Thousand Gifts written by Ann, the kindred spirit that inspired me to begin this new way of seeing life, this posture of thankfulness:
" ... if we don't intentionally commit to the hard practice of seeing, don't we die in barren wilderness? Anger, frustration, emptiness?
I lay my hand on my son's cheek, his tear-wet cheek. We are of a piece.
'Son? You can't positive-think your way out of negative feelings. About your brother, about me, about people. Feelings work faster than thoughts; blood runs faster than synapses.' His eyelashes quiver. 'The only way to fight a feeling is with a feeling.'
I stroke his cheek slow.
I move closer, hoping my words might revive. 'Feel thanks and it's absolutely impossible to feel angry. We can only experience one emotion at a time. And we get to choose-which emotions do we want to feel?'''
I choose thanks.
#262 Husband-worked crossword puzzles
#263 new neighbor friend for Selah
#264 un-rushed trip to the library
#265 smell of fresh cut grass
#266 Husband's manly voice reading Fancy Nancy
#267 Little Girl's arm around his broad shoulders
#268 the funny way Baby still curls her tongue upward, self-pacifying to sleep
#269 GranRon who wants to invest in her granddaughter
#270 pastor who strives to be blameless and upright, seeks counsel, loves deeply
#271 youth-pastors wife with four small children who lovingly gives time, energy, prayers, friendship, mentorship-to bring glory and honor to God
#272 brother and sister-in-law devoted to family, devoted to keeping clean conscience, devoted to God
#273 friendship that keeps through the years
#274 His grace through flailing, flopping, teary-eyed-child days
#275 that we always have the choice to do what is right
#276 that He always provides a way out
#277 Husband talking in his reef-geek scientific-names language, knowing so many words that I can't even pronounce
#278 finding my misplaced gratitude journal
#279 girls wild-splashing in the tub
#280 baking day
#281 GrandMary making the long drive to see us all, remembering details to communicate her deep love(fresh pineapple for me)
#282 Little Girl galloping and neighing wildly on her stick horse
#283 breeze rushing through front window straight to back door
#284 smiles after tears
#285 hand written letters