Cleaning out under the house after Hurricane Matthew, I came across an old prayer journal from my first year as a Christian, 1972. My Sunday School teacher at FBC Jacksonville had challenged us to list 100 things for which we were thankful. But there was a catch. The items could not be the typical things like your family, your church, friends etc. Those things are not trivial, but I think she really wanted us to understand thankfulness on another level. Just a few from my list: electric curlers, backpack, chewing gum, softball and pay phones. Those are weird things. I wish I could remember why I listed them.
Let’s start a new list of weird and unusual things to give thanks for. First on my list: pain. I never thought I would find myself giving thanks for the physical pain I have in my body. It’s been several years now that my arthritis has really impacted my life. Looking back, I can honestly say that the pain has served a purpose. Here is why I am thankful for this pain:
- It has made me a more compassionate person.
- It has identified me with Christ in a new way.
- It has made me stronger physically and spiritually.
Second: Curly hair. Seriously, those of you who know that I have a love/hate relationship with my hair, I am finally thankful. Being born with natural curly hair has been a battle for me. As a teenager, the long and sleek look was in and all I ever wanted was hair like Cher. The arthritis that is present in my hands has made it really difficult to blow-dry my hair. Holding a brush and a blow-dryer for thirty minutes is a high price to pay for straight hair. Good news! I have natural curly hair that looks just fine when I just let it dry. I am now finding delight in and am grateful for—the first time ever—something that has given me much grief.
Third: Mad driving skills. Until we learned to drive a stick shift, my dad wouldn’t let us get our driver’s license; and being married to a Heath is even worse. All Heaths are required to have mad driving skills. That includes: drive a tractor, back up a van WITH a trailer attached, launch a boat from a trailer, parallel park a Lincoln Town car (Yes, that is the car we owned, while living in New Orleans, with only “on the street” parking.) and a variety of other mad Nascar skills. One year for our annual wellness week, it was required of me to drive a 12-passenger van from Bush Intercontinental airport to Round Top, TX in Houston traffic! I did it—giving thanks for mad driving skills all the way there.
Okay! We all agree these are weird things to give thanks for. What’s the point? Thankful people are healthier; live longer, have more friends. Second point: God can use weird and unusual things to bless us and bring Himself glory. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:20 (ESV) “Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Start your list of weird and unusual things to be thankful for and put it on your refrigerator. Add to it each day. It will deepen your appreciation for God who provides all of your needs. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Look for the gifts.
Vicki Heath, First Place 4 Health National Director