This morning I started my day with some positive affirmations and general reminders about how great my life really is. While this isn’t something I regularly do, it’s been beneficial lately in getting me out of this blasé mood I’ve found myself. And honestly, when you feel your blood pressure rising because Omar the Giant Puppy is climbing all over you and the file you’re trying to download fails (twice), counting my blessings sounded like a pretty good idea.
I’ve found there’s nothing magical or unique about this process. I simply take a blank piece of paper or Word document and start making a list of things I’m thankful for or things that are true.
Example: I’m thankful for my health. I have great friends.
It helps. As I was listing things, my mood steadily improved. Not that I’m surprised, I have a lot of things going for me. I serve a great God. The whole process is sort of the thankful calendar I started at the beginning of this year but on a bigger scale. I don’t just list one or two things –I list a page or two of things.
Occasionally, I’ll repeat an item or two. Sometimes because I can’t think of anything else in that moment and need to keep the momentum going. Other times because I struggle with reframing my attitude.
As I was making my list this morning, I wrote something that caught me off guard.
I am safe.
This small, three word sentence gave me pause. How often do we think about how safe we are? How often do we give thanks for the fact that we are safe? I know it’s been a while since I’ve reflected on it.
Growing up, I wasn’t always in a safe environment. Sometimes through fault of my own.
There was this one night when I was a teenager, I was spending the night at a friend’s house. She lived across a busy highway from a bowling alley. We told her mom that my aunt (who was really our neighbor) worked at the bowling alley and begged to be able to walk over and hang out. She said we could.
It was dark out and there we were, two teen girls feeling invincible as we stood halfway between her house and the highway, talking about our adventures. Then, my friend realized she’d forgotten something and wanted to turn back to her house. By this time, her parents had gone out –to the grocery store or somewhere –I can’t remember. So, when she turned around and walked closer to her house, she was taken aback when she realized someone was in the driveway.
I never did find out who it was. Neither did she. It could have been her parents, having forgotten their wallet or coupons or a sippy cup for her little brother. I don’t know. All I know is how close I came to serious danger in the moment after she saw that someone in the driveway.
“There’s someone at the house. Run,” she yelled at me.
I stood there for a split second between her and the highway. My anxiety was peaked. All I heard was “danger” beneath her words. So, I didn’t think twice about her command. I turned and ran.
Right toward the busy highway.
Up until my feet stopped on the edge of the road, I hadn’t really noticed the sound of many cars traveling at a high rate of speed. I hadn’t really noticed their headlights carving out a beam in the night.
And then I heard the unmistakable sound of a semi-truck. It was coming hard and fast down the highway. Somehow, I stopped running. Stopped dead in my tracks, just in time.
Today, I am safe. The memories of the sound of that semi, the feel of the wind rushing past me, and the smell of diesel fuel are just that –memories. Vivid ones. But, today, I am safe.
Other times while growing up, I wasn’t safe through no fault of my own. No, I’m not blaming my parents for slacking on the job. I just wasn’t always safe. My parents were young when they had my sisters and I. They had issues of their own. Don’t we all? They did the best they could and they loved us and still, there were times when I wasn’t safe.
Today, I am safe. The times when I wasn’t have become part of who I am. It’s not always easy, but today I am safe. And for that, I am thankful.