Early in our marriage, we lived with a God-fearing couple for a few months. This couple had several children and not much money. The house and furniture were old, the children were playing everywhere and making a mess, they kept several pets and there always seemed to be visitors.
One day I was drinking tea with the Mum, as she said to me, “We live like kings …”
That day she showed me a great secret: Thankfulness is a way of thinking, not a result of circumstances. And here’s the thing: when we train ourselves to be thankful, it can change our lives in seconds.
Thankfulness should be the foundation of our daily lives, and there are good reasons for this.
One reason is that it affects people around us. We had a visitor recently and we planned to give him a nice day out. But things didn’t work out the way we had hoped. Before I could feel bad that the day didn’t go as well as we had planned, the way our guest reacted took over. Everything was “perfect” for him – he was happy with everything; he laughed when things went wrong and was talking happily with us in traffic jams. His thankfulness cheered me up and was an example to me of how much we affect one another, and how thankfulness can change a situation for the good.
And being thankful changes us too. There was a time when I used the Word of God to judge what my husband was doing and saying, rather than using the Word of God to judge myself. This sometimes lead to us accusing each other, and I remember one day he had said something that hurt me and I had become offended. I walked to the window and watched him going off to work and I suddenly thought: He’s a good man, actually. And I decided to put my offendedness to one side and prayed for him – that he would get to work safely, that his day would go well, that he could hear the Spirit’s voice in all that he did, and that I could do my part to make a peaceful home.
As I prayed for him, I became more and more thankful for him, and my offendedness seemed so small and stupid. The change from being offended to being thankful took five seconds but it totally changed my day and the way I looked at life. I began to stop judging him.
But what exactly happens in those very important five seconds?
There’s a moment when God opens my eyes and I see how I myself am really like, and I also get a desire to change it. What I do in those seconds will decide if I use the opportunity to be changed by the power of the Spirit, or if I walk away from the window still convinced my husband is wrong …
“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (CEB).