Got a Light?
By Janel Breitenstein
Last winter, a neon-yellow index card served as a lamp for my family.
Before you go and try it—it wasn’t physical light. We were navigating some of the darkest days in our marriage, discovering our 13-year-old might have cancer.
My son inspired The Card, which now sits on my nightstand. Even as he cried, he started rehearsing what we were thankful for in all this. Turns out I needed that unflagging reminder, so I corralled our thanks on an index card. We kept adding to it.
In those hard days, gratitude helped me trust that despite what I see, there’s a reason for my pain.
Thankfulness and worship—this brand of sustained, true happiness—are closely braided. They throw my eyes up, away from my own navel; away from my demand that everything must go just as I hope. It shoves my husband and me from our near-sightedness. Casts a spotlight on gifts piling up right and left.
Suddenly, the Spirit’s fruit tumbles forth in a happy avalanche: Joy like an anchor. Peace I can’t articulate. Faith-filled trust that nourishes and bandages.
I feel loved rather than cheated. Secure rather than unmoored. Soothed rather than chafed.
It alters the fabric of a home to see the goodness of God everywhere. But gratitude is not natural. Like every other virtue, it is discipline imposed, choices sculpted into habit.
Though “what I want” was never the goal—I can now add “no tumor” to that Day-Glo index card. My son had an extra bone on his cervical vertebra. When we got the call, we dissolved in more thanks.
In his gratitude, my son uncovered for us an old lamp—a steady beam to navigate my most consuming darknesses.
Giving thanks in dark times is a humbling experience, but it helps to put our lives in proper perspective. Read “When You Don’t Feel Like Giving Thanks.”
The good stuff: For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)
Action points: Consider keeping a small gratitude journal—or even an index card—between you and your spouse, especially in hard times.
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