Now that I am teaching at a local college, I no longer have a least favourite day of the year, but I used to. When I taught in high school my hardest day of the year was parent/teacher evening. Every time this happened I would have around forty sets of parents, and thirty-nine of them were polite, respectful and occasionally expressed appreciation. Then there was the one parent who blamed me for their child’s performance. She/he was not doing well in my class because of a personality conflict with me (whatever that meant), or I taught too fast, or too slow, or basically I was not a good teacher and should improve or move on. No matter how many accolades I may have received that evening from other parents, guess which one I talked to my husband about when I first got home?
Why is it so easy for us to focus on the negative? Well I for one am making a concerted effort in my life to change that. And I am doing it using thanksgiving. I can wake up on a day when I was due to play tennis and find out that it is raining, and immediately want to complain. Instead I am working at thanking the Lord for a new day, that I woke up in my own bed, that I slept well, that my husband is going to bring me a cup of tea, that I have time to do some reading today, and the list continues. Two or three times a day I will pause and give thanks for ten different things. It doesn’t matter if I frequently repeat myself. Of course I am grateful for my relationship with the Lord, of course I’m grateful for my husband, my family, my home, my own car. I have so much, and it is imperative that I remember that.
And when things go wrong, I remind myself that not everything that happens is God’s will. God only gives good gifts, so if I have a flat tire, that is not from him; if someone is unkind, that is not from him; if I lose something important, that is not from him. Yet I can still give thanks in everything because that is not saying that everything comes from the Lord. I can give thanks that I have a way to get my tire repaired; I can give thanks that most people are kind to me; I can give thanks that I have family who will help me search for that which I have lost. And in giving thanks I am breaking the power of whatever went wrong, it is now unable to have a detrimental effect on me.