February 10, 2021

Count Your Blessings

Late in 2020, I happened across a meme picturing a glass canning jar filled with folded, multi-colored papers. The accompanying text issued a challenge: “This January, start the year with an empty jar. Each week, add a note with a good thing that happened. On New Year’s Eve, empty the jar and read about the amazing year you had.”

Aiming to push against an uncomfortable malaise that threatened some days to overwhelm me, I decided to give it a shot. I also purchased a “one line a day” journal, in which I take a few moments each evening to jot down some thoughts – positive or negative – about the day’s events. I keep the journal where I easily see it each night, and I’ve set a notification on my laptop so I don’t forget to do the weekly summary. Then, when I think on Friday night or Saturday morning about what to say for the week’s submission to the blessing jar, I refer back to my daily journaling and also reflect on what’s happened in the lives of each of my family members during the previous week.

Being a pessimist-leaning realist by my (human) nature, I sometimes focus first on the “bad” things about which I may have vented in the journal. I must actively choose to recall the positive. But I’ve seen so far that there’s always something – and often multiple occurrences – to document for the jar. Taking time to acknowledge that each week has, indeed, had its share of blessings has softened the sting of inevitable struggles. And recalling the positive gets easier with each passing week.

It’s not too late to start counting your blessings in a similar way. There’s nothing magical about January 1; helpful practices can stick no matter when we launch into them. In fact, you can even extend what I’ve done by including your children and spouse, perhaps assigning each family member a specific paper color to ensure that everyone participates fully.

And by now if – like me – you’re music smart, it’s probably inevitable that you’ve got Johnson Oatman, Jr.’s 1897 hymn in your head. Thus, I can’t think of a better way to remind you to get started counting your blessings than to get his song stuck there for the rest of the day!

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.


So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.



Photo Credit: Prayer Jar

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