The Grateful Game
Runners are weird. People who say they actually enjoy running are extra weird. The only normal ones are those who run but simultaneously confess how excruciating and awful it feels to run. Allison was the first runner I heard who publicly confessed the ridiculousness that is running. She honestly proclaimed how, even in the midst of her run, she would hate running. But Allison created a solution. She called it The Grateful Game.
As Allison ran she would hit that wall where her body began shouting "THIS IS STUPID! STOP RUNNING! Nothing is chasing you woman... WHY are you doing this?!?!" And in response Allison would begin to say... and force anyone running with her to say... out loud... Everything to be grateful for. It usually sounded something like this... "I'm thankful for my socks... I'm thankful for my shoes so I'm not running on rocks... I'm thankful for air in my lungs... I'm thankful for this person running with me..." etc. etc.
Eventually, many grateful statements in, Allison would find that she's finished her run. She would also find that she wasn't frustrated, angry, or in a bad mood despite being physically spent. You know where I heard this story? At a training camp for missionaries traveling around the world. Allison would share this story specifically to this audience because they needed a tool to change the atmosphere around them. They needed a weapon to use against long travel days, international visa applications, living in WAY TOO CLOSE quarters with different personalities not to mention different cultures, and their own personal issues coming out as they served. Gratefulness was their weapon.
It's been a while since I've trained missionaries. And yet to this day, The Grateful Game sticks with me. I've implemented it in parenting. When my preschooler just CANNOT handle it (or when Mommy just can't handle it...) we play. Even over my toddler, when he's just fussing and nothing is helping, I begin to tell him all the things I'm grateful for about him. In my marriage, when we find ourselves disconnected, we start a date night this way. In my office at Project 7 Billion and with our Team Mighty staff, we've played as an act of worship. More than anything this has become the place God takes me as I pour out my complaint to Him. As I fuss and whine about all the problems He hasn't solved, I regularly hear Him whisper... Let's play The Grateful Game again. Not only does my attitude change, but the very atmosphere of my life begins to shift. It seems almost magical watching things change as I simply breathe out thanksgiving.
If you've never read One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp... well you should do it this month for sure. She beautifully details out this very thing... how practicing expressing thanks actually changes your life. My all time favorite quote comes from her:
Eucharisteo ... thanksgiving ... always precedes the miracle.
So what mountain do you need moved today? What circumstance needs overcoming? What complaint have you poured out before the Lord where you are still waiting on His answer? The entrance into His miracle... The gate into His presence where His presents are waiting... The doorway is in giving thanks. If all you can eek out is a whispered "Thank you for my socks"... Well, begin there. In your declared thanks, your very atmosphere becomes primed for His gift.