It’s no small thing to count to 1,000

My first post on marriage went over much better than I anticipated. So I’m going to ride that train for a bit.

I mentioned how counting blessings and being grateful should be a huge part of how we work on our marriage. At least, that’s what I’ve been learning. I have the perfect example to show why this is so important.

In July, a very good friend of mine gave me a book called 1,000 Gifts and a blank gratitude journal. At the time, I was not convinced that counting my blessings would fix anything. I recognized it was probably a good habit to get into. But it wouldn’t fix Heidi not sleeping at night. It wouldn’t fix my husband’s crazy work schedule. It wouldn’t fix how much time we were missing as a family and how much I was struggling with it. It wouldn’t fix my problems. But I trust her, and it had made a huge difference in her day to day life. So I decided to give it a shot. Each night before bed,  I would list every good and amazing thing from the day I could think of that made me happy.

I’ve blogged quite a bit about how this has changed my attitude. But just a few weeks ago, I saw how it was changing my heart in my marriage.

I started the journal  on July 19, 2011. I decided to number my blessings, just to quantify how many good things there are in my life, even on the bad days. On February 27th, I reached 1,000 blessings. Oddly enough, I am sure that’s not even half of what they really are. I decided to go back and read through them.

As I read, my heart literally lifted. I felt lighter, happier, and amazed at how fast I had forgotten all these amazing and forgotten little pockets of my life:

#1. For sweet friends like Laura who care about my heart and bless me with gifts like this
#16. For my neighbor’s text at 10pm, letting me know my garage door was still open
#37. The sweetness of Heidi when she first wakes up – fluffy hair, flushed cheeks, big t-shirt
#138. Psalm 121
#225. Heidi taking two steps BY HERSELF tonight!! Right from the couch. I teared up.
#276. Cool mornings, fresh air in the open windows, hot coffee
#496. Staying in our grocery budget this month
#1,033. Cuddling in my bed with Heidi at 9:30 last night, reading Harry Potter out loud to her because she couldn’t sleep.

As I read, I  was surprised by something else. I had recorded a lot of things about my husband.

#101. Cody getting up with Heidi this morning so I could go for a run.
#165. Wings and beer for my date night with Cody
#270. How handsome Cody looked before he left for work this morning
#404. Cody making dinner for us last night
#666. Cody staying home with me and watching a movie tonight instead of going to play video games with his brother
#694. Date with Cody today – Sherlock Holmes, Starbucks, driving around.
#734. Cody thanking me for dinner tonight and doing the dishes
#881. Cody calling me sweetheart on the phone
#1,008. Cody calling me at noon today just to tell me he loved me.

I was also surprised by how fast I had forgotten many of those things. In the midst of the frustration caused by the normal stresses of life, I often think things like, “He never helps me with the dishes. He’s never  home. He’s never considerate of what I need. He’s never sweet and tender to me.”

This journal is proof that those never’s are really never true. Funny how we can remember all the things our husbands do wrong or don’t do at all, and we so easily forget the small moments that their love and tenderness really show. We think it’s complicated. We think maybe it just can’t be what it used to be. But I beg to differ. I think it can be pretty simple, and it comes down to what we choose to see and hold onto about the person we supposedly love the most.  That was easy when we were dating. His little quirks were cute, not annoying. And I let things that bothered me slide completely, choosing only to see how amazing and sweet he was. Because that’s what was most important.

On our wedding day, we vowed to love in sickness and in health, in weakness and in times of need. And about 99% of us recited 1 Corinthians 13, a section we hear so often. But if we really think about it, how many of us approach our husbands on a daily basis with that attitude?

4 Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. 5 It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs.
 6 Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. 7 It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.

Am I patient and kind with him? Am I polite, and not rude? Do I look out for his interests, or only my own, in our  marriage? Do I keep track of his wrongs? (Ouch!)  Do I protect, trust, hope and persevere for our marriage? Not always. And let’s be honest. I can’t think of anyone I get mad at more easily than my husband (can I get an amen??? This can’t just be me, right?)

It goes to show that counting our blessings isn’t trivial. It’s not naive, and it’s not even optimistic. It’s a way of life. In this case, it’s how I remember that my husband really is a good man who adores Heidi and me, when the worries and stresses of life this tempt me to believe otherwise. It’s how we stay close to God. It’s how we fight for the people and things we love. Our hearts have to be trained to hold on to the good. In a world where we dodge tragedy and disease and bitterness and death on a daily basis, where it’s just too tempting to put ourselves first and to believe nothing matters, we have to push ourselves to believe that everything matters. We have to push ourselves to do good. To be the good.  Because when things get tough, the good is sometimes all we have.

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of Your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long…”   -Psalm 89:15

“The highest form of prayer is to the goodness of God. God only desires that our soul cling to Him with all of it strength, in particular that is clings to His goodness. For of all the things our minds can think about God, it is thinking upon His goodness that pleases Him most and brings the most profit to our soul.”  -Julian of Norwich

“When it is hardest — that is when you sing the loudest. The devil flees at a hymn.” Ann Voskamp

3 thoughts on “It’s no small thing to count to 1,000

  1. Sweet post, Jamers. I always appreciate your fresh perspective. It seems to come my way at just the times I need a little reframing. Love you. Thank you for your honesty. It’s beautiful. (just like you!) ❤

  2. I cannot tell you how excited I get when your blog link pops up on the FB news feed with a new one. I love these so much.

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