“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
COUNT OUR BLESSINGS
About two weeks before Christmas, I went back to confession after many years I missed it because of laziness and busyness. As a Catholic, confession to the spiritual leader (priest) is an early stage of repentance, realizing that we are truly sinful, and therefore we need God’s mercy to forgive our sins. The priest, as confessor and leader, represents the Church, the Community of Faith. Another need that we have is to get things off the chest, so to speak. In the actual confession of our sinfulness to a priest, there is also a human feeling of being made free.
In short, my spiritual confessor didn’t give a lot of comments after the confession. He simply asked me to reflect on the roots of all the sins I admitted, mostly dealing with my personal ambition. I eventually found one basic reason of it all: my lack of gratitude for all the blessings I have received.
Coming home from the Church, I continued to brood about what the easiest way to live a daily life filled with gratitude. To be honest I am a religious person, I am diligent enough in prayer, I do lots of charitable work, but it’s not enough to conquer my sins. Having become a big dreamer for life, sometimes I was disappointed when God did not answer my prayers and application. That’s the main root of my transgressions.
Then I remembered, one day in early December, a good friend of mine substantively had ever shared a nice tip to become more thankful by earnestly counting our blessings. But, at that moment, I ignored her advice sent via Whatsapp. So, with a bit sense of guilt and the need of change, I tried to look for it again in my phone memory. I noticed that the idea is simple yet very meaningful. It’s named “Jar of Blessings”, or “Blessing Jar”, or so-called “Thanks-Living Jar.”
Starting from the first day in 2017, I would like to welcome this new year being fully aware of the blessings in my life. I seriously intended to count my blessings and name them one by one. I have decided to follow that brilliant concept shared by my friend, and I feel moved to also introduce this “Blessing Jar” to more people. Maybe you’d like to as well. This helps bring out the blessings and remind us of how God has blessed, and how blessed we really are in more ways than we can count.
How to make our “Blessing Jar”?
- Get a big jar. An empty jar. Preferably a translucent jar of glass or plastic.
- Make a label that says: My Blessings in 2017, or 2017 Year of Gratitude, Good Things 2017, or something like that.
- Once a day, take time to think of the blessings that happened in our life that day. Everytime after we experience a blessing, write it down on a piece of paper. Then, place the paper into the jar. Our blessings could be any good things that encourage us, an answered prayer, a smile that brightens our day, a phone call from our kindred spirits, a warm hug, an encouraging quote, a good compliment, a helping hand, an opportunity to do good, a day we had many praises, a nice birthday greeting, a beautiful sunset, a cool evening for a walk in the park, a grace to handle a difficult situation, or simply knowing that our family is in good health. Remember to include the little things that far too often we take for granted. Name it all. Record them and place them in our blessing jar.
- At the end of the week or the end of the month; open up the jar and read through a few of our blessings and be encouraged. Be sure to put the blessings back in the jar after we read.
- One Year Review: at the end of the year, set aside an hour or so to read through each blessing. Those are our blessings of a whole year!
- Be amazed what God has done. Take time to thank for each of our blessings. Thanking God from whom all blessings flow. We’ll see that the goodness and love of God follow us all the days of our lives.
HAVE FAITH IN THE FUTURE
One thing that could benefit my spiritual life by making the “Thanks-Living Jar” is I’ll see I have many reasons to thank God in this ever-changing life. C.S. Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” I loved that quote because it encourages me to look forward to the future and the blessings that it holds, believing that the best is yet to come. As I move forward, I will face the future with faith and hope. I believe there are so many glorious things that certainly will come into my life.
So dear noble friends, when you think of all that’s good, give thanks to God, consider your blessings and don’t take them lightly. Make room for the future full of blessings. Have an amazing start to your 2017, and remember, the greatest times are still ahead.
Happy new year, everyone! God bless us all!