Learning From Absence
“Going through a recent health challenge that left me flat on my back, unable to barely move, did a remarkable thing in my heart,” she said. “Now I rejoice just to walk through the grocery store. I give thanks I can bend and get out of bed.”
We learn best by experience. When something is taken away from us, we become acutely aware of how much we miss it. And we are more thankful if it returns.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”Thomas Haynes Bayly
From small things to big things, we grow in thankfulness when we experience its absence.
- We bang our big toe and it hurts so badly. Just to be able to put on a shoe again becomes a cherished thing.
- We finish a difficult project that took up all our free time … but we start to realize that we actually loved working on it.
- We see a loved one move overseas, and we realize how much we miss them. To touch them again is so meaningful.
What are some things that have grown in value to you? Does something have to become absent for you to really be thankful for its presence?
Focusing on things that God has given me right now and expressing thanks is cultivating contentment. It fosters observation and th(i)nkfulness. It is a mindset that promotes mental health and a peaceful life. “What I want and what I have already are the same thing.”
My friend in the opening story above had walked through the grocery store hundreds of times. Often it was rushed. When her intense back problems began and she had to be confined to bed and allow her back to heal slowly, there came a new appreciation to just be able to walk again. Perhaps the great gratitude she now feels for being able to walk would not have come unless she lost it.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” The Lord describes a person who has great gain in 1 Timothy 6:6. That person has learned to be godly and content.
Sometimes the capture happens automatically, like when you loose your ability to walk and it is restored, you automatically capture gratitude.
But we can capture gratitude on purpose. Over a cup of coffee, while commuting, or during free time, you can imagine one of the joys in your life, or one of your senses, is eliminated. What would you do? How would your life be different? If God chose that for you, He would give you grace to handle it and to overcome.
But now, come back to reality and praise the Lord that it is not gone! By eliminating something we count on, and then bringing it back, we can capture thankfulness. We are more motivated to not take that thing for granted, but instead appreciate it and express our thankfulness for it to the Lord.
Thank You, God:
- That my eyes work
- That my hope is not based on me, but instead in YOU!
- That one day You will return for us.
- That I have access to the Word.
- That I can walk
- That my inner ear isn’t infected, causing me dizziness
- That my headache lifted
- That I have a bed to sleep in
Today focus on something to be really thankful about. Capture that thought and feed it!! 🙂
“Contentment is the only real wealth.”Alfred Nobel