By Roxanne Parks
Years ago I was challenged to create new habit, that of journaling “Eucharisteo,” or thankfulness. After reading Anne Voskamp’s book 1000 Gifts, the Lord forever changed my life outlook. At the time, my father was dying, and my mother was sick. I was their sole caregiver as two of my siblings lived in California and the other two lived in Texas. Our home was in Oklahoma City.
My father was in and out of the hospital for months. During that same time, I was drowning between the hormonal dysfunction of menopause and the hormonal dysfunction of teenage rebellion in my home. My spirit was tested at every turn. After reading 1000 Gifts, I committed not only to recognize things to be thankful for, but also to write them down and give them a name. In time, this totally changed my outlook about everything. This habit has now become a vital lifeline for all difficult things in my life.
Scripture says, In all things give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Really? All things? Sometimes this is difficult. The Bible does not say “give thanks when things are easy or good or if you like them.” I am thinking there is a giant period at the end of that statement that says “this is God’s will for us!” His good and perfect will? Do I trust our trustworthy God? Do I love Him? Will I obey Him? In all things or just when it is easy?
What I have come to learn is that there are times when giving thanks is easy. Then, there are times of “hard Eucharisteo”–when it is hard to give thanks. During those times, I give thanks as a complete and total act of my will. It is my choice to obey and trust God beyond my own understanding. The choice is not based on how I feel but on my love for God. It is a deep choice to “trust and obey.” It has become a new habit.
Now whenever my spirit starts to be sick with the ways and wiles of this world, I quickly grab my “Eucharisteo” journal and furiously start writing things to be thankful for. This process has proven to be a great anti-depressant. When it is difficult to give thanks but I do so anyway, I bear a greater witness to intimacy with my savior God since I could not do it on my own.
A couple months ago, I was frantically ushered into my mother’s apartment with someone on staff of the senior center where she lived. She had not been answering her door. I was to spend the day with her. When we discovered that she had gone on to be with the Lord, I yelled out “Thank you, Jesus!” It was then I learned that I had made deep, hard thanksgiving a new pattern in my life. What in the heck was I thankful for at that moment? My very words, to my own ears, reminded me of the new pattern of obedience I had developed. This was the hard Eucharisteo. Frankly, I was surprised at my boldness to yell, “Thank you, Jesus!” But at that very moment, I was jolted into reminding myself that He is trustworthy, that His ways are higher than my ways, and that He answered my mother’s prayers, for she had wanted to die in her sleep.
The most amazing thing is that the lady I was with was transformed by my behavior. Only God could have orchestrated such work. She told me she was forever changed by my bold faith and my heart of gratefulness. God was working in all of this. It all started with a choice to obey God and pull myself out of the depressing and difficult season that has continued to refine me. Only our God could orchestrate such wise counsel for us. And for that, I am truly grateful!
Have you started your thankfulness journal yet? What are you waiting for?
*Photo by Katie @home2family