By: Christine Fishel
I had a great idea. I was tired of hearing my four children spout off ungrateful comments whenever I cooked dinner that wasn’t their favorite, or they couldn’t find the pair of pants they wanted in the dresser, or they were bored by a Saturday with no special activities.
One child had the nerve to tell me she couldn’t understand why I hadn’t laundered the shirt she had tossed into the laundry basket that morning. “I wish I was you,” she said, which quickly captured my attention. “You hardly have any responsibilities.”
It took a full four minutes for me to relay the list of thankless tasks I had completed that day only for her. I don’t think she’ll make that comment again, even if she does think it.
That’s when I had my great idea. Actually, I borrowed it from a dear friend. She has created a Thankful Wall in her home where all members of their family can regularly write what they are thankful for. She is creating and cultivating gratitude in her family.
Once I had the thought, I didn’t wait. I took all the school pictures off one wall in our dining room and drew a giant rectangle in thick black Sharpie. Inside one corner, I wrote Colossians 2:7: Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (NLT)
All four of my kids were surprisingly bothered by writing on the wall in Sharpie. (Two had done this over all the walls and paneled doors of our second floor several years ago when they were “making the house look cool,” but I guess they don’t remember that.)
Over the next several weeks, I saw something happen within my kids. They grew from being thankful for candy and a favorite animal (snake) to being thankful for the things God put into their lives just for them: the impact of a wonderful uncle who went to heaven this past year, a papa who is silly and makes them laugh, friends who say and do just the right thing when they are hurting.
I’ve been changed, too. Several times a day I’d find myself meditating on that scripture verse and understanding a new level of how I can become more thankful—by relying on the Lord to keep me strong, by reading and studying His Word to know Truth, by listening for His words spoken just for me when I need them desperately.
With family visiting for Easter, I wanted to make our Thankful Wall more presentable. As I painted over the multicolored Sharpie phrases, I felt sad. I had taken a photo to add into our new Thankful Wall hanging, but there was something special about this first one.
I wouldn’t have needed to take a photograph, though. As it turned out, it took three coats of primer and five coats of paint to cover what we had written in Sharpie. And I was so glad! Each time I painted a new layer, it was if God was telling me: You are cultivating thankfulness and it cannot be erased.