McBrayer: Make Thanksgiving a way of life
In the churches of my youth, we sang an old hymn titled "Count Blessings" at every Thanksgiving service. I can still recite the first stanza from memory: "When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed; when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost; count your many blessings, name them one by one; and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done."
A Sunday school teacher once challenged my Primary Bible Class to do exactly as the song implored: "Count your blessings." She handed out sheets of wide-ruled notebook paper accompanied by fat, yellow, No. 2 Ticonderoga pencils. A dozen 8-year-olds went to work listing all of our heaven-sent assets.
Have you counted your blessings lately, naming them "one by one?" I know all the "big things" would be on the list. Family, nation, shelter, food, children or grandchildren. But to list all of our blessings, even the little things, would take a considerable amount of time, longer than a brief Sunday school lesson would allow. Still, it's worth the time to make such a list. Maybe you could start with A and work through the alphabet to Z, concentrating on the little, often assumed, godsends.
I'll get you started: Air conditioning. Band aids. Coffee. Distilleries (particularly those in Canada). Electricity. Football. Garrison Keillor. Hamburgers. Ireland. Jackson Hole. Krispy Kreme. Live Oak trees. Music. Newspapers. Online banking. Picnics. Quinoa. Refrigeration. Smoked Almonds. Tennis. Urinals (the ones that flush automatically). Vacations. Willie Nelson. X-Rays. Yogurt. Zyrtec.
And that's just the first list that rolled from my mind, a stream of consciousness! This list could be reproduced a thousand times over with little thought, just observation, because blessings constantly rain down upon me. God's ever-present grace surrounds me, if only because I am fortunate enough to live at a time and in a place like this.
It's not that complicated. Take the time to look around your life and count your blessings — one by little one — if you dare. Give thanks to God for what you have, what you have experienced, for the grace you have received, and for the people you have known.
Try to remember that Thanksgiving is more than a holiday, more than a day off, more than a circled date on a calendar. It is a way of life. Remembering this might change your perspective about things. It might change your attitude. It just might change your life.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor and author of multiple books. Visit his website at ronniemcbrayer.me.