Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I'm Not Thankful For

I read Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power of Positive Thinking, when I was in High School and I know now, looking back, that it's probably a lot of bologna, but at the time it really did transform my thought processes, and the way I chose to see things.  And we are commanded to give thanks IN all circumstances (not "for" all), and to "rejoice always."  With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I'd share a few of the things that I'm not thankful for, but am. 

I am thankful for our broken dishwasher.  That our landlord seems to have no intention of fixing.  I hate doing dishes, but I hate piles of dirty dishes even more, so I do them.  Regularly.  I'm finding that the time I spend standing at the sink can be a much-needed parenthesis in my day . . . time to think and get my head straight.  Time to ponder the most recent problem, time to creatively think of a solution, time to plan the rest of the day.  Time, especially, to pray.  

I am thankful for the emotional onslaughts my three-year old is currently giving us because, when I am the most exasperated, the most unsure of what to do, the most overwhelmed by the problem, I am given a glimpse at just how dependent I am on the Lord for wisdom and grace, of how desperately I need Him to work in the hearts of my children.  It drives me to my knees.  Now, I choose to see these times as God's gracious reminders to pray hard for my family.

I am thankful for the intensely difficult first two years of Sami's life, because after so many sleepless nights nothing else seems too hard.  

I am thankful for our apartment.  At the time of our life when most people are moving into a larger home, we downsized to a two-bedroom apartment this year.  I have found so many reasons to be thankful for this:
-I am thankful that we aren't trying to sell a house right now.  We've been there, and it is not fun.  
-I am thankful that this apartment allows us to be so free.  We didn't even have to sign a lease, so, in theory, if we wanted to move to California next month we could . . . or we can at least dream about moving.
-I am thankful for no maintenance.  Our evenings and weekends are completely ours, we can spend them however we wish and not spend them doing house repairs or raking leaves.
-I am thankful that our home is so small.  It takes me one hour to thoroughly clean it, or a few minutes a couple times a day, and I have lots more time for other things.
-I am thankful that we live here with small children.  My kids can play all over the entire house and I can have my eye on them, there are no steps to chase them up or formal rooms to worry about them messing.
-I am thankful for simplicity.  It was a very cleansing process to get rid of any and everything that was not "useful, meaningful, or beautiful."  
-I am thankful that less space means fewer toys, for my children and us.  We go to the library instead of buying books, wear-out the toys we have, and find creative ways to play.
-I am thankful for the coziness.  
-I am thankful for fairly low rent, and no mortgage!

I am thankful for a tight budget, because I kind-of enjoy the challenge to be creative, it reminds me to feel grateful, and actually helps me to be content.  (Simplicity is a blessing!)

I am thankful that Sami no longer naps . . . No, sorry, I'm still not thankful for that. 


charrette said...

okay, even though i've been absent from bloglandia, i've been reading all your posts, and while I have nothing to say about your technical difficulties (sidebars and such) I have volumes of ponderings to share with you about religion vs. spirituality...etc. Loved that series.

Your thankfulness for inconvenient and thankless things is lovely. Wonderful post! We have some friends who are multi-millionnaires who down-sized to a 2-bedroom apartment while they were building yet another mansion, and they said their time in the little duplex was one of their happiest ever. The smaller quarters rendered them physically closer, and as a corollary emotionally closer as well.

I too often enjoy the forced creativity that poverty brings. (And I use the term very loosely, because there is no real poverty here. Just a need to be frugal most of the time.) I also enjoy the pondering that comes as water meditatively runs through your hands while dishes are washed. (You must read My Monastery Is A Minivan for a great essay on this!). And this past week I pointedly checked out a library book instead of buying it on Amazon. How very liberating that was! (Although I'm still addicted to writing in the margins and so still buy most of my books.)

You are so lovely. Thanks for the terrific post. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Betty said...

This is one of my faves Jess. We have gone through and found some of the same blessings of living in a smaller home, simplifying.
I must warn you though, the novelty of washing dishes will wear thin. I did it for a year and thought the same thing, it's not to bad. Then I got a dishwasher.......if and when yours does get fixed I think you'll be adding a new post.haha
And as for Sami's naps? I agree there is not joy in the loss of a nap. Fortunately my boys all napped until they went to kindergarten but even then I mourned over nap time. Seriously.

betsycq said...

I feel the same way about dishes. i still long for a dishwasher, but those nights that i do my dishes, it is kind of relaxing. i don't have to worry about the kids (it's daddy time). i can look out my window, read my verses, or just think about things i want to think worries. plus, i make it a challenge to see how well i can stack my dishes without having to dry anything. i think i would win a contest.
as for the smaller place, when i think of all the places we've lived, my favorites have been our little 2 bedroom apt in tusky and the 2 bedroom apt when we moved here. those were simpler days, as you understand.
this is such a great post to remind me to be thankful for the things that make us better people.