This week, we pause for Thanksgiving. But even on this day set aside for it, our thankfulness feels fleeting; enduring gratitude, elusive. How do we cultivate heartfelt gratefulness that transcends a holiday? For me, reflecting on the people who populate my memories reminds me that once I was blind and now I see – a powerful stimulant for gratitude.

For so many years, I didn’t recognize the glimpses of God’s tender care…

…in my younger sister holding the bus for me when I ran late most mornings. 

…in my campfire girls group serving together in community.

…in my middle school science teacher nurturing a curious spirit.

…in my youth pastor sparking my imagination for the heart of God.

…in my friend sharing a cadaver and many late med school study nights.

God was there. But in my blindness, I missed him in these relationships I took for granted. Yet, he didn’t need my awareness to do his work. All along, he was weaving a beautiful tapestry. As I’m now able to step back and view the full sweep of God’s handiwork, I admire the creative patterns he fashioned, interweaving relationships and experiences that helped me grow, protected me, provided for me, and shaped me into the person I am.

Story sharing and story hearing – these are my work now. Despite all the times I didn’t see God in my own story, I now magnify God’s work in the stories others tell me. Perhaps it’s irony or divine drama – I help others see in their stories what I could not see in my own.

How amazing that God opened my eyes to see that he values me enough to carefully weave every moment of my life! I look back with new eyes and see all that He’s done for me – from the death of Christ onward – and remember that I am loved. Cherished. Treasured. Embraced. His. This is the fuel for a gratitude that endures.

What practices energize your thanksgiving and stimulate a grateful heart?

Shauna Schneider
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