There was a time when my vision was off. In the season of busy, the season of difficult, the constant work, the lack of quality time, I began to notice what was not happening rather than what was.
I saw the dishes in the sink, placed there after a meal still not cleaned up.
I heard the wrong word chosen and dwelled on the hurt.
The tee time scheduled before consulting me about OUR Saturday; the work trips, the meetings, the late nights and the early mornings.
And a few years ago, I could sense myself beginning to dig in my heels and let these roots take shape. I stood on their bitterness, letting each moment carry me higher and higher into the self-righteous pillar of negative, the scenery of bitter.
It became too much. I knew we had too much of a good thing to let myself sit in those spaces.
And so somewhere after Oprah’s gratitude journals and before Ann’s 1000 Gifts, I realized that I needed to see something else.
I was convinced that it was there; that I was just choosing to see what was not happening, rather than what was.
And so I began a gratitude journal about my husband. For an entire year, I wrote down moments, I wrote down memories, I wrote things he said and things he did. For an entire year, without telling him what I was doing, I wrote down what makes me grateful about this man. For an entire year, I saw him, and it filtered into our entire world.
April 19, 2011: Seeing my 37-week large pregnant belly, Lane told me I am his beautiful, hot wife. He also initiated conversation between us after our childbirth class about relaxation, postpartum and breastfeeding, drawing out my desires and thoughts.
September 4, 2011: Lane played with Brennan for an hour so I could take a nap. He then told me all of the fun things they did together and how funny she is and how much he loves her. She’s 4 months old. He is such a loving, involved, good father.
As I delved deeper and deeper into this practice, this habit, this way of seeing, I began to notice a transformation within myself and with my marriage. There was renewal. There was joy, there was gratitude, there was connection once again.
December 4, 2011: Lane made sure we took a moment to put the star on our Christmas tree together. We got a picture of it and everything. He knows how crazy I am about Christmas traditions.
December 17, 2011: We threw a really fun party tonight. Thankful I have a funny, social, loving, welcoming husband.
Finding what I wanted to write down for that day, for that moment, became this sort of game for me. I secretly watched him, tracking what was my moment for the day, until Aha! I found it! The dishes in the sink began to matter less. His opportunities became my celebrations. Our conversations fueled connection rather than disappointments.
February 12, 2012: I love Lane’s sense of adventure. He had so much fun snowboarding today. He is a warrior.
May 22, 2012: He makes homemade margaritas just for the sake of having fun. I love life with him.
And then, after an entire year of writing down what I love about this man, I packaged and wrapped this journal. On our 7th wedding anniversary, after the celebration, after the wine, after the gifts and the wonderments of “How has it already been 7 years?!” I handed him a surprise box.
He opened it, not knowing what was inside.
As he flipped through the pages, it hit him.
I see what he does, who he is, how hard he works. I see his character, his sense of fun, his love of adventure, his love of his family.
This gratitude journal changed my way of seeing and my way of living and my way of loving. This forever altered my way of interacting with him. It transformed our marriage, him deeming this the most meaningful gift I have ever given him. And so now, whenever I feel those roots of bitter and negative begin to threaten to take shape underneath me again, I open my eyes and look for the blessings, the gifts, the gratitude, and the fun.
I flip through some of the pages of my book, and it reminds me to remember. It reminds me to really see him and really see this life and really see the beauty.
Because if I look for it, it is there.
Dig in, notice the moments, and be here now.
::: you can do this too. all it takes is finding a journal and opening your eyes and your heart and writing it down. and don’t keep it to yourself… give it to them. :::