So this year, when the time came to go around the Thanksgiving table and say something you’re grateful for (because #tradition), I had my answer ready.
I am thankful for my refrigerator.
At least, now I am. Like about 99% of the blessings in my life, I didn’t used to think much about the refrigerator. It certainly wasn’t something I thanked God for providing. I just…used it. And in return, it just stood there, keeping things cold.
Until one day it didn’t.
Robbie and I considered calling a repairman until a quick Google search revealed that the average fridge lasts 13 years. Not to seem unsentimental, but ours had been a good and faithful servant for 18, and we figured it was time to say, “Well done” and move on.
Which, as it turned out, was easier said than done. I’ll spare you the details (the staggering cost, the unlimited options, the fact that the new models don’t fit the old holes…), but the punchline is that we spent six weeks looking at this:
Privileged Person’s Problem, I know. But as a result of our personal tragedy, two collateral blessings took place.
First, I lost a few pounds. We have a small refrigerator out in the garage where we’d transferred the essentials, but that’s not very close to the kitchen, and so whenever I got hungry and thought about going out for a yogurt or something, I would weigh the time and effort involved and think, “Meh. Not that hungry.” And after awhile, the yogurt expired, and I didn’t even think about going out there anymore.
The second blessing happened when the new fridge finally arrived. I found myself taken aback. Not by the internal water dispenser (although that was a major upgrade), but simply by how grateful I was. Seriously. I would literally look at the thing, tear up, and say, “Thank you, God.”
(And if you don’t believe me, ask Robbie. He’ll vouch–and tell you he thought I was slightly deranged.)
And it hit me. How come I wasn’t as grateful before? Why did it take not having a refrigerator to make me so glad when I did? Why don’t I count the ordinary, unremarkable blessings in life?
Why can’t I be more like Alexander Maclaren?
Maclaren was one of Great Britain’s most influential preachers, 100+ years ago. “Do not let the empty cup be your first teacher of the blessings you had when it was full,” he said (as if he’d actually foreseen my fridge deprivation), but rather, “Seek, as a plain duty, to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.”
The crowded kindnesses of God.
(Maybe just take a moment to let that one penetrate your postprandial somnolence.)
(Which is what the doc at your Thanksgiving table might call your food coma.)
I decided, based on how happy I was about an appliance, that I should give thanks for more stuff. That I should actually do what the Bible says (“in everything give thanks”), instead of just being grateful when something really good happens (or when something really bad doesn’t). And so I started being more intentional about counting my blessings.
I thanked God, when Robbie and I climbed into bed, for giving me such an incredible husband. And then I realized how comfy our sheets are, and I thanked him for that. And for my pillow.
Anyhow. I hope it lasts. I’ve gone thru “gratitude seasons” before (like when we were newlyweds, and I decided that seeing Robbie’s undershirt on the floor should be a thanksgiving prompt–I have a husband! I have a washing machine!–rather than a bitterness root), but somehow my self-centeredness always elbows it’s way in, and I find something to grumble about, or at least something I wish that I had.
(Thicker hair, for example.)
But I don’t want to be an “I wish I had” person. I want to be a “God is so good!” person. I’m not sure I’ll ever fully get there, but honestly? The fridge is helping. It’s there, every morning, a silent reminder of God’s goodness in the everyday ordinary. Of his crowded kindnesses in our lives.
And when I get out the half-n-half (which I actually stopped using, back when it meant a trip to the garage), I can’t help but say, “Thank you.”
Please help us. Help us to live lives–everyday lives–that are rooted and built up in Christ, strengthened in faith, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)*
* P.S. I just looked up that prayer prompt in The Message. Might have to print this one out and tape it (cuz I guess magnets don’t work anymore?) to the front of the fridge:
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.