Every night before bed, I ask my children what they want to thank God for that day. Most of the time there was something good in their day and they find it pretty easy to come up with something; sometimes they can come up with several things. Other days, however, they look at me with a sour puss on their faces and say "Nothing! There was nothing good about today." Admittedly we all have bad days, even little children. On those days, I have to help them dig a little deeper to find something to be thankful for. I want to help them have thankfulness as part of who they are, and to realize that thankfulness is as important a part of prayer as is petition or saying "I'm sorry" for things they did wrong.
Sometimes, I need to take my own advice in the thankfulness department. God gives us so many blessings, yet I admit I often take them for granted. Even worse, I often look at other people's blessings and want them for my own! Ah, yes, that "You shall not covet" commandment has always been the one that has given me the most trouble. In the list of the seven deadly sins, envy has always been at the top of my list. From the time that I was child, it has always seemed like there is someone in my circle of friends who has life so much better than me. Those people have changed over the years and the reasons I feel envious have changed as well. Thankfully, I have outgrown my adolescent envy of those more attractive or more popular than I! By the same token, I no longer feel jealous of people with nicer homes, nicer clothes, or more fancy cars.
These days, my envy is much more likely to be of other people's interpersonal relationships. I see others who seem like they are better moms or have apparently happier marriages or have deeper spiritual lives. I try to channel my jealousy into a positive thing by looking at these people's lives and seeing how I could nurture those qualities in my own life. I try to pick up tips on parenting or marriage or prayer and implement them. Sometimes this helps.
What I really need to do, however, is to be thankful for what I do have. I have lived long enough to know that no one's life is perfect. We each have our own challenges to deal with, even if they go unseen to the rest of the world. In my more lucid moments, I even realize that there may be people out there who look at me and think that I have it made! I have been blessed in many ways. I have a loving husband and two beautiful children. I have a roof over my head and food on my table. My health is good. I am lucky enough to live in a place where I am free to worship as I choose. Yes, I have been truly blessed. Each day, I need to remind myself to thank God for all those blessings - the big and the small - that have come my way.