Over the weekend I had the opportunity to take part in what my church calls a ministry time. It was intended to bring a little bit of closure to a class I took there (in 2010...yes, they've been a little behind in scheduling these times and no, I didn't mind the wait). The short version is that those assigned to minister to you, spend about 2 hours or so interviewing you-- talking about the peaks and the valleys of your life. Then they spend about another hour or so affirming you, praying for you, praying with you, etc. It's a very healing and heart-warming time (at least for me it was).
As I was talking to the two women assigned to me, I felt like I do many times when I talk to people about my life. As I said in my last post, it's been extraordinarily ordinary. But sometimes, it's been downright boring (not necessarily to me, but boring-sounding when I talk about it with others). I haven't had any major trauma or drama in my life. Yes, there were things that I thought were incredibly dramatic in my life-- breakups with boys, fights with friends, a bad grade on a final exam. But in "the grand scheme of things" as many like to say, those things were small in comparison to what a lot of people go through.
I don't say all of this to compare problems, struggles, or pain. That's not what this post is about. Instead, this post is about someone else's response, a total stranger's response, to what I casually described as a fairly boring life. After making that comment in passing as these two women combed my life for events that may have led to spiritual strongholds, one of them remarked, "Your life hasn't been boring, Melody. Your life has been protected. For whatever reason, whether you ever come to find out why or not, God has protected you and blessed you for some purpose of His."
I don't say all of this to say I'm better than anyone else. I'm not. That's not what this post is about either. And it's not about what I think God's purpose is for my life. I know that He's gifted me with a lot of love, a lot of patience, the gift of gab, and the ability to teach. But this isn't about spiritual gifts either.
So what is all this rambling about? As I've been chewing on what this woman said, I've realized that she's right. I haven't and I don't live a boring life. I live a blessed life. I've been spared the pain of losing a close family member or friend to death. The deaths I have encountered have been those of people whose lives have been well-lived. I didn't have a dramatic and distant relationship from my parents growing up. We're still close now. I haven't had a near-death experience. I haven't had something so traumatizing happen to me that I live in fear of that thing happening to me again. I have a healthy marriage, healthy children, and a healthy body. I've paid my bills on time, worked hard, and I generally a reason to smile daily. These are not the signs of a boring life, but a blessed life.
As I prepare to start a new decade, I want to work hard at the art of being grateful. Because I do think it's an art. It's something we have to practice. Growing up, I was taught to say, "thank you" and to write thank-you notes. But it's more than that. It's being thankful everyday, for just the little things. It's being aware of that gratitude. And sharing that gratitude. In extraordinarily ordinary life, I have much to be thankful for-- some are practical (a house, a job, money saved for retirement, clothing, food, etc.) and some are really nice and not at all practical when you get right down to it (vacations, my iPhone, multiple pairs of shoes) and some are obvious (my kids, my husband, my friends, my family).
So that's my goal in this new decade. To practice being aware of all the good things (and even some of the bad) around me and to be thankful.
You didn't think I'd leave you without some pictures did you? Here's Cate in her recital costume-- it's in less than 2 weeks! She is so excited to dance on stage.
And here are my two lovelies at the park. I am thankful for the beautiful weather. And for trips to the park.