So I don’t typically jump on the bandwagon of internet “hot topics,” but the recent death by suicide of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams and his depression hit a little too close to home for me and made it difficult for me to be okay with the barrage of negative and judgmental commentary on Facebook about the choice he made. Let me be clear, I do think suicide is a choice. However, I understand and sympathize with the heavy feeling of deep darkness and hopelessness that accompanies depression and I could easily see how living with that depth of hopelessness for so long would make suicide seem like a good idea or the only escape, even if it’s not.
When you’re depressed you don’t think rationally and you don’t think very far ahead. It is quite difficult to see past the hollowness you feel in each empty, unsatisfying moment of your day… of your life. For me, the only way I escaped was with the support of dear friends and the constant gently nudging assurance of my Savior reminding me that He is holding me and that He is enough to satisfy. Robin Williams, for whatever reasons he had, felt he was out of options. He left a monumental amount of pain in the lives of those who loved him by choosing to end his own life, but I know that there is a God who loves and comforts. I pray for people to rise up around his friends and family to comfort them in their grief in this sudden season of loss. I grieve that Robin Williams didn’t seem to know the hope and comfort of God’s embrace. Without that, I would imagine that pulling yourself out of a clinical depression would be an insurmountable task.
A while back I read a book that changed my perspective on how to respond to disappointment, sorrow, and discouragement. The book “One Thousand Gifts” by Anne Voskamp states simply that life is full of countless blessings we often overlook and that it is next to impossible to remain sad or discouraged when you begin to recount to yourself all the blessings in your life. It is even better if you take the time to write them down. Blessings can take many forms. Any single thing from the comforting hug of a close friend to the way the sun seems to warm your skin from the inside out. Nothing is off limits if it’s something that brings you joy.
So I made a list.
I began my list back on 03/10/2013.
So far I have physically written down in my journal 230 things that I have been thankful for. I hope to keep this going for a long time, but my goal is to get to 1,000 things. I wasn’t always consistent and had gaps of times between reflection and journaling. Sometimes I would repeat something I was thankful for that I had written down several months earlier, but I didn’t want to create any inhibiting rules. I simply wrote down the things I was thankful for – the things that brought me great joy and peace on each particular day.
So in honor of my 100th WordPress blog post (Woohoo!!!), I am going to select and list out for you 100 of those things exactly how I wrote them in my journal and the dates on which I wrote them down. Enjoy. 🙂
1. My husband Chad
3. Green Ink Pens
4. Ice Water
6. Our Temperpedic Bed
8. The first signs of Spring
9. Comfy Leather Chairs
10. Hazelnut Mochas
12. Unlimited cell minutes
14. Vineyard church
15. Sleeping with the windows open
17. Pumpkin, our circus kitty
18. Soft fuzzy yarn
19. Sense of smell
21. Cool rain
22. People I can be myself with
23. Portland, OR
24. Outdoor patios
25. Tall trees
26. Brick courtyards
28. Slip on shoes
29. New friendships
30. Spontaneous compliments
31. The breathing room of flying first class
32. Vodka cranberries
33. Laughter that replaces breathing
34. An assuring gentle touch
35. The company of like-minded people
36. Recognition for a job well done
37. The feeling of leaving the ground behind
38. Fog lifting off the water
39. Meeting Anne Fadiman
40. Moments of reflection
41. Paid holidays
42. Pumpkin flavored things
43. Honest thoughts with God
44. Changing seasons
45. Building anticipation
46. Assurance that hard times have an expiration
47. Skin turning pink in the sun
48. Zeph. 3:17
49. The joy of blessing someone unexpectedly
50. Inside jokes
51. Ever-increasing comfort with another person
52. Finishing a great book
53. Church family
54. Serving in Children’s Ministry
55. Advancement of medical science
56. Kind nurses
57. Small needles
58. My good sense of direction/navigation
59. Lazy Saturdays
60. Thick green grass
61. Banana bread with walnuts
62. Gentle touches
63. Free fertility meds!!
65. Time off on rainy days
66. Surprise phone calls
67. Plane tickets to loved ones
69. Quiet places to just “be”
70. Just the right song lyrics
71. Comfy colors like grey, plum, and navy
72. Jacket weather
73. New books to read
74. Warm fires
75. Warm beds
76. Kitties snuggling at my feet
77. A good cry
78. Melody Morgan
79. Matt Chandler podcasts
80. Pumpkin Spice Lattes
81. That I am not homeless
82. Thankful that my Granny is finally at rest
83. That Pumpkin knows when I need kitty snuggles
84. That I got a really good hug from Deena today.
85. For friends like Jennifer who text just to check on me and make me feel very loved
86. That Kimmie prays with me on the phone and loves me 12 years later still…
87. For a husband who knows the perfect silly face to make me laugh when I need it the most…
88. For new beginnings
89. Feeling known
90. Feeling understood
91. Ocean breezes on Florida beaches
92. Aloe Vera gel/lotion
93. Tiny hands holding mine
94. Judah’s maniacal laughter
95. Late night movies with the Carters
96. Walks with Emily Donnelli
97. Direct flights
98. A really good back scratch
99. Chad missing me
100. Seeing God stir something beautiful deep in Chad’s heart
If you made it this far and you’re still reading this, congrats! 😉
The funny thing about recognizing and being thankful for all the big and little things in your life that God has blessed you with is that it makes it hard to complain, feel sorry for yourself, and it is even difficult to obsess over the things you don’t have. As many of you know, these past few years have been incredibly hard for me (with the past year and a half being the worst of them). I have had so much pain and so much longing. I have fixated on the beautiful blessings God has given nearly every single person around me and sobbed over the fact that I did not have those same things. So it is amazing to me to look back over my journal and see the progression of where God has brought me and the blessings he gave along the way. On bad days he gave me friends to hug and friends to pray with me on the phone. On good days he gave me sunshine and Pumpkin Spice lattes and great books. Every time in between He has blessed me in one way or another.
So if you ever begin to feel like life is hard, overwhelming, or just plain hopeless and you can’t see a proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” in sight…. begin to write things down.
One at a time.
Write down what you’re thankful for, even if it’s hard to think of something.
I promise that on your very worst days you have been blessed with something.
If you have a friend who is struggling with depression or anxiety, please PLEASE do not ask them to “cheer up” and “think of what they could be grateful for.” Instead, buy them a latte, give them a hug, invite them over for a movie…..
BE the blessing from God.
BE the reason they have to smile and the reason they’re thankful.