“Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.” Robert Louis Stevenson
It seems like there are two types of people in the world, the thankful and the complainers. I lived far too many years in the critical camp. Not liking this, disparaging that. Always looking for something to bring down, inviting others to join me in the dark waters of unhappiness.
I remember the moment when my life went to sleep. I was raised by critical parents and always lived with a certain amount of fear, never knowing what would set them off. One summer morning, in the very young elementary years, I decided that if I pretended to be asleep they would leave me alone and I could put off just a little while longer having to face another day. I must have been seven or eight when my heart closed and my emotions shut down. By withdrawing into myself I could avoid the pain of criticism and rejection. Needless to say I don’t remember my childhood as a happy one.
Fast forward nearly 30 years and God has been broken my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). I am seeing God’s mercies and taking delight in the world. It took more than a decade of Christian life for any noticeable change in my true life outlook. Some people are delivered in a moment. For others of us the journey of healing and restoration seems a lifetime. Perhaps that is all part of the new life in Christ? The years before I new him were years of stone, the years following my acceptance of him are years of flesh. Flesh is fragile, easily wounded and marred. But without allowing my heart to be vulnerable I cannot truly live.
A life of gratitude is relatively new, but so beautiful and life affirming. For the thankful there is a reason to get up in the morning instead of dreading the dawn. There is a reason to risk relationships, to look for the good in others and speak life and encouragement to them. There is a reason to work for community, that we may help carry one anothers burdens along the way.
I do not want to reach the end and realize that I have never truly lived.