Lists of Blessings

Gratitude lists are less about specific "things" and much more about the idea or essence of each thing. Gratitude is love-in-action—and 'tis always the season for that!

By Amy Sparkman

Categories: Gratitude

'Tis the season for gratitude! One natural inclination at this time of year is to list all the reasons we have for being grateful—to count our blessings. In so doing, we can't help but realize how much we have, and how abundant with good our lives truly are. Making such a list as both individual family members and as a family unit is a great way to see and acknowledge the continuity of God's love for us over the previous year. As we recall one blessing after another, we see how each one fits together, interlaced and overlapping, to create a tapestry of rich color, texture, and design. Above all, generating a gratitude list is a perfect way to highlight what really matters—the ideas, experiences, and interactions we recall that are of real substance.

On these lists, we might readily include a friend we especially value, a trip we particularly enjoyed, or the day we proved ourselves on a sports team. But, is it the objects—the person, the excursion, the body—that we're grateful for? Or is it what each object represents that touches our hearts with that indescribable sense of "all is right with the world in this moment"? A discussion of the ideas that inspire each item on our lists can help us get below the surface to the deeper substance of our lives—and of our gratitude lists. A healthy discussion is also a wonderful way to connect as a family. (And then, we can add "family time" to our lists!)

As we reflect on each blessing, we can ask each other to discern the reasons for our gratitude: why a particular individual is so dear to us; why a trip was so special; what made a competition stand out; and so on. Inevitably, our lists will lengthen as we add qualities and attributes that represent each object, individual, and experience. A special friend makes us grateful for:

  • friendship in general
  • laughter or a light-hearted perspective
  • companionship and loyalty
  • honesty and transparency

That fantastic trip makes us grateful for:

  • adventure
  • different perspective
  • newness and freshness
  • courage

The spotlight moment of physical achievement makes us grateful for:

  • flexibility
  • strength
  • discipline
  • perseverance

Much more can be added to these lists, of course! And in so doing, we'll see that gratitude is so much less about a specific "thing" and so much more about the idea or essence of each thing.

What's more, as we think more deeply about gratitude, we will see more and more reasons to be grateful and ways to express our gratitude. Imagine counting our blessings and being a blessing to others—all at the same time. That's what gratitude does: it fills the heart to the point of brimming over with generosity and love; it begs to be expressed, to be shared. Gratitude is love-in-action—and 'tis always the season for that!