Last week I talked about hard seasons and how even the hardest ones have purpose if they bear fruit.
Several years ago, I was in the middle of a difficult season. I had lost a lot and it seemed like I just kept losing more – my health, relationships, finances, security. I didn’t know what I could do to make my season more bearable, but I was willing to do whatever I could to overcome it and keep moving forward. I was shrouded in discouragement and grief, but I didn’t want to stay stuck in that mindset.
One night when I was really struggling, I decided to start a thankfulness journal. I wasn’t sure it would be all that helpful, but I figured it couldn’t hurt!
I was surprised by how much it actually benefited me. It changed my perspective. Instead of constantly thinking about what was going wrong in my life, how hard my season was and how much I’d lost, I began to look for things that were going right and focus on some of the blessings that were right under my nose. They weren’t always huge things – most of them were actually small – but being able to identify anything at all helped me point my mind in the right direction.
I had two rules for this journal:
I thought this would get tough pretty quickly, because there were only so many people and foods I could mention! 😂 But it actually never became difficult for me. I’ve been keeping this journal for many years in a row now and I have yet to come to a day when I absolutely cannot think of one more thing to be thankful for.
Yes, there are a lot of people and foods on my list. (My priorities are clear. Ha!) But there are so many other things. Even during the rough times, there are so, so many things to be thankful for! Even if you’re broke, lonely, discouraged, sick, anxious, hurt, angry, betrayed, overlooked, rejected, ashamed, weak, slandered, or under attack (I’ve been all of these, so I speak from experience), there are still things to be grateful for. God has given you countless blessings, no matter what season you’re in.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
I originally kept my gratitude journal in an actual notebook, but I soon switched to an Excel spreadsheet, which has made it easier to track everything I’ve listed and make sure I’m not repeating the same thing twice.
Here are a few examples from my own thankfulness journal:
We all truly have so much to be thankful for, and identifying those things can help us find joy and hope in even the toughest seasons. Give gratitude journaling a try if you need something positive to focus on in this season!
Do you keep a thankfulness journal? How has it made a difference in your life?