Learning to be thankful…

photo credit: alamy stock photo

One of the most important lessons I began learning (“began” because I’m still learning!) when we lived in Romania under Communism was to be thankful. In everything. NO exceptions. 

We initially lived in Caminul 14 — the only housing option available to us at that time as foreign students. Our tiny, narrow dorm room had two twin beds, each with a desk and chair at the end. If either of us leaned back in our chair we’d bump the other! A sink completed our little home — the bathroom was either down the hall (for men) or up two flights of stairs (for me and the other foreign women). I remember washing our clothes by hand, hanging them on a line above our beds to dry… being irritated by the drip, drip, drip that interrupted our sleep.

I had a terrible attitude… complained to my young husband (we’d only been married three years); grumbled about our colleagues who lived in Vienna—who had hot water and electricity ALL the time, plus a washing machine AND clothes dryer; questioned why in the world God had sent us there. My wise young husband had us do a Bible study on coveting, which helped me see that wishing for/wanting something that others had and I didn’t was, in a word, sin. Coveting. Yuck. 

And… one of the primary results of a covetous attitude is discontentment.

As a practical application to help deal with this attitude we started a daily habit that still is a part of our lives… over 40 years later! Every night before we go to sleep we review the day and think through all the things we’re thankful for. Short little sentences. Not asking God for anything. For example, “I’m thankful for a good talk with Katie.”  “I’m thankful for finding cheese at the market.” (that was a BIG deal back then!!!) “ I’m thankful our families are healthy.” 

Some nights, the only thing I could honestly say I was thankful for was that the day was over.

But… what began to happen was that throughout the day I would “interpret” whatever problem or inconvenience I encountered through the lens of thankfulness… and what a difference it has made! I’m not done learning this lesson, though. This COVID season of life is providing ample opportunities to continue learning… and practicing being thankful!

May we all develop hearts of thankfulness… and together grow in our ability to have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life.”

8 thoughts on “Learning to be thankful…”

  1. Another good memory shared and lesson learned/learning. I knew that you did “thankfuls” with Jessica and David every night. Didn’t know how “thankfuls” began.

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  2. I appreciate so much your transparency! I remember this distinctly when you would share at church. Is this the sweet, spiritual Mary I know having negative thoughts!? So I’m okay? LOL! I must say that would be a challenge living in that small dorm room! So of course, Al didn’t mind!? I love the idea of expressing thankfulness at the end of the day! You two are an amazing!
    Still ministering as a couple! God is good! Love to you both!

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  3. Mary,
    What a lovely blog. I used to write 3 good things that happened to me in my daily journal but I like this idea so much more. I’m going to try to begin this in my journal now.
    Gail

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  4. Mary,
    Thank you for your transparency and sharing your lessons learned along the way…and still learning. Your example was a great reminder to me of the power of giving thanks, intentionally, every day.

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  5. I like the idea of seeing circumstances through a lens of thankfulness throughout the day, not just when I open my thankful journal,

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  6. Indeed, Mary, great post and reminder to be thankful. I’m thankful for you and your sharing your heart… wanna get coffee sometime this week? thursday or friday afternoon?? Mel Proctor

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