“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything. “
-Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to the Divine Providence
I love everything about setting goals. I love to fill up my favorite mug with some strong (decaf) coffee, grab my journal, and sit at my spot in the house, the spot that tells my boy and my man that I am not to be disturbed, to write out my monthly plans–what I hope to accomplish and achieve. I started this in July with big dreams: finally going back to grad school for my MSW, praying for my husband everyday, reading books on teens and reading books on faith, start substitute teaching…
And then, two weeks later, everything came crashing in–the option for grad school meant I couldn’t work, and our household can’t survive with one income. Then I started looking into my MSW program, and realized that sometimes (all the time) the state handles foster situations in a way that I don’t agree with–can one person be the change it needs? Then, the kicker happened: my husband and I found out we are expecting a baby.
We have an adopted 16 year old, and are newly married, and I have a lot of big passions and big dreams and all of a sudden, I can’t seem to get a day off bed-rest because my morning-sickness.
July was a bad month for my goals sheet.
I revisited the messy, beautiful, marked-up paper in August feeling defeated, but believing I could still conquer and achieve. I grabbed my coffee and replanted myself, ready to face another month with my new goals. And every month through December, I revisited. I faced defeat. I faced disappointment in myself.
Eventually, I learned _flexibility _with myself, and to have _grace _on myself as life’s turns seemed to love to put a hitch in all of my goals. They eventually transpired and morphed into simple, seemingly insignificant goals like “create space to read up on sleep training, finish teen book, pray for husband once a week.” I realized my limitations as a young bride and pregnant lady, and, without knowing it, began embracing my new life–a life I never saw for my wild-at-heart, aspiration-junkie self.
And as this New Year approaches, I’m quick to judge and beat myself up over all I missed out on this year, all the things I feel like I lagged on, all the days I went through just surviving to make it through (but for some seasons, I am learning, survival is a _great _feat). And what my months of goal-lists have brought me to is this: a need to be thankful.
A new gratitude for simple pleasures, like hot tea in my mug and new thermals and great reads.
And this list showed me all the big things that I take advantage of everyday–
a healthy baby growing in me,
my sweet, constant, steady husband–who let’s me push and question and laugh and cry
And the list goes on:
For the rhythms of adventure and rest, pushing and napping, rising and stepping back.
For the hard times, because they’ve made lighter times that much brighter.
And this year, instead of taking the day to dream up, I’m remaining grounded in the truth that there is much to be grateful for, _first. _I must recognize these things before moving onto next steps, or I’m going to miss the beauty of it all.
“Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life–even the hard–is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole…There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.”
–Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Before the resolutions, before the list of things to do and achieve, let’s take a couple moments to breathe, smile, and remember the good that’s already hit us this past year. Pat yourself on the back for the things you accomplished, but also the things you tried in 2014–because trying and failing is just a redirection to the right path. Take a moment this New Years and write down your “Thank You” list, it keeps your perspective in check, and your mind gracious on your limits as you step into new adventures and dreams. Maybe you’ll be surprised by the things that actually turned out to be good–unexpected graces to say _“Thank you” _for.