Name Them One By One

My in-laws came over for lunch the other day. Upon entering the front door I said that I had been counting my blessing, making a list and they had made it to the top ten! They are incredible.

I really had sat down that morning and instead of just mildly giving thanks for so much in my life, I decided to be literal and start a list. I’ve been putting things down on my phone for several years now. What not to forget at the grocery, random thoughts to flush out later and even a poem now and then. So why not my running list of blessings to count?

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”  ― Henry Ward Beecher

 

Make A List

I began an itemized list of names, situations, and things that are blessing my life now, in the past and in days to come. This is a strategy to make the unconscious a more powerful force in the conscious day-to-day. By turning the hypothetical into something concrete (a list) anyone can increase its power and influence over attitudes, decisions and interactions.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!

This is the first part of the chorus to that familiar hymn. Each verse describes a bitter trial. When we face hard times and suffering one way to increase our courage and march on toward the light of day is to remember all the ways we have experienced blessings in our life. It’s always too easy to forget our blessings and spend too much time on our miseries.

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” ― Marcus Aurelius

 

What I’m urging you to do is to literally start right now to write down;

  • names of people who have been a blessing to you and yours
  • the material possessions that are yours that help to make your life rich
  • all the circumstances that have occurred along the way that have shaped your life in ways that brought you to the right place

As I made my list I discovered that it didn’t take much time at all. Over time, I found that it really did help to correct my steering – get my thinking back between the lines of reality. It made me happy. One item would often lead to another. Thinking about people would trigger situations and encounters that had been so important to my journey. There were of course people that came up that I wasn’t particularly thankful to have had in my life – but as I thought about it – I had learned valuable lessons and knew that the damage these people had done created valuable scars. Can you believe that?

Don’t waste idle time sitting in the waiting room. Turn off that TV for a few minutes. Use this practice to start or end each day. Going to bed every night with these kinds of thoughts is so much more healthy than a head full of worries. Instead of another trivial conversation with your spouse, family member or best friend, what about taking a few minutes over dinner to work on your list together?

Over time, keep adding to your list. Your life is a work in progress. Don’t forget to keep track of how God is taking care of you and the ones you love. The constant practice will keep your heart and mind in the right frame. You will be less likely to wander off into the bushes of doubt and despair. Ask someone to help you if you lack the motivation.

The list I carry around on my phone is now a resource. It’s a treasure, like money in my wallet. I can consult it on a bad day or when truth becomes too shallow. You’re going to say, “Oh I know my blessings, I don’t need to keep a list.” I even know who you are that’s saying this to yourself. But I’m telling you, there is great value when human beings engage in deliberative action to think critically about their experiences. So start writing.

Your blessings are not as powerful a force in your thought and action until they are made real by intentional activity.

When you hit a wall of difficulties and start to feel anxious or fearful about your circumstances, consult your list. God has taken care of you and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue his work in your life. He has promised this in his Word and in your life (take a look at your list!).

Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have because He has said, “I will never leave you; I will always be by your side.”  – Hebrews 13:5

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One thought on “Name Them One By One

  1. I bet it blessed your in-laws that they were on your list. I would take it one step further and let people know that they mattered enough to be on your list. Too many things are said after we die. People need to know now. You are awesome, Randy!

    Like

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