Last week’s column How to Get What You Want in Ten Minutes a Day provoked a large number of excellent responses. (Since nearly all 900 of you subscribers receive these postings as an email, you reply via email and therefore only a few comments appear in the comments section of the blog.)
Some of you told me that after a few days of sorting and refining your list of ten things you really want, you focused so hard on what you didn’t have that you forgot the good things you do have. You sensed a spirit of ingratitude and you had to remind yourself to “Count Your Blessings” as the old hymn tells us to do.
Good advice. Good practice. Counting our blessings is the first sure-fire way to generate a grateful spirit.
Like you, I counted my blessings, then went one step farther. I made a list of ten things I do not have and I really do not want. I was surprised how much gratitude this exercise generated in me.
I omitted mentioning the details of my Ten Things I Want list, but I will list the things I don’t want and I’m glad I don’t have. I just jotted them down as they popped into my mind, without prioritizing. (To preserve anonymity, I’ll use a * in place of people’s names.
- I do not have a future without God as multi-millions of people around to word have.
- I do not have a selfish, harsh, and unloving wife as my friend * had until the divorce.
- I do not have children or grandchildren that live far from God and break our hearts as our friends * and * have.
- Neither Jo nor I have cancer as * has, and our friend *, and *; nor do we have Alzheimer’s as our friend * has.
- I do not have severe inexplicable chest pains as our friend * suffered a few weeks ago.
I do not have to face the loss of all our possessions as did the 100 residents of the condo building that burned to the ground in south end of the city last week.
- I did not have a car accident, like * had just before Christmas, which totally destroyed his vehicle and hurt his passenger.
- I do not have any form of osteoarthritis requiring knee and hip replacement as my friend * has.
- I do not have a job I hate as my friend * had for years until he had a nervous breakdown.
- I do not have a debilitating disease that keeps me in constant pain as our friend * has.
Oh, and one more:
- I do not have to wait for years and years until someone translates God’s Word into my own language like 350 million people who are still waiting around the world right now.
Numerous passages in the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New, command people to be thankful. Gratitude won’t bring us to God, only repentance will do that. But not being thankful is one of the first steps away from God.
First we need to stay close to God, count our blessings and be thankful to Him for them. Then we need to count all the things we don’t want which we don’t have and be thankful for those too.