grat list buddies

Posted: November 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

Back when I started writing gratitude lists (or, as I call them, “grats”), it was mostly just an assignment – mostly just an act of obedience to someone who was mentoring me at the time.  I was open to the idea, having taken a stab at such lists from time to time ever since Oprah had suggested it many years before, but this was a new, more purposeful and systematic way.  She gave me a set number of things I had to be grateful for – I think maybe it was five.  I remember that it was REALLY HARD to think of that many things to be grateful for, a lot of days. 

These days it is hard to shut up, when writing my grats.  I put my fingers to the keyboard and the words just come running out.  Years upon years of practicing gratitude has tuned my heart to that frequency, honed my thoughts in on that pattern, instructed my words in the best directions to turn, most especially when under duress.  I will never stop advocating for the regular writing of grat lists – for me, it has been a life-changer.

One of the unexpected gifts from this process has been friendships.  When I joined the “grat list” email group, there were over 100 people playing along –  I remember this because I had to send my list out in 2 batches every day to get it past Yahoo’s rules for number of recipients permitted.  One thing I know from all these years is that most people don’t stick with the process.  Most come and play awhile, and then fade away.  I really miss some of the folks who used to be regular contributors.  My grat list email grouping today is 37 people, and only a handful of those came from the original 100+ that I started with. 

While a lot of today’s list is friends I know “in real life,” that original handful from the first group are folks I’ve never met face-to-face.  But you know what?  Today they are every bit as much my friends as the folks I get to sit down with regularly or talk to on the phone.  Some of us have been doing this for something like 7 or 8 years now.  When one chooses to share transparently, real friendships are grown.

I cry when my friends lose a pet or a loved one.  I am excited when they go on big trips or move across the country.  I pray for them when they struggle in their relationships.  I pray for their family members who are sick or suffering or struggling.  I worry about them when they get hurt or face scary tests.  I linger over pictures of their grandkids.  We read each other’s lists and respond, swapping back stories and lessons and further thoughts, trading bits of encouragement and wisdom and experience and humor.  We grab lessons from one another’s lives and run with them, writing back to share how that goes for us.    I have received gifts in the mail from these friends.  Several of them looked seriously into coming to my wedding, though in the end it didn’t work out.  If this is not love, I don’t know what is.

People are quick to doubt that real relationships can be formed via internet.  And I get that.  The world is full of pretenders and game players and folks building an image for Facebook that doesn’t match their every day lives.  But in the end, I guess it’s what you make of it.  My grat list friends are such an important part of my every day.  I look for them when I wake up.  I wonder about them when there is no list.  I smile when I see their name in my inbox.  And I never stop praying for them.  I’d have really missed something in my life, if I had not made these friendships.

Just another blessing born of gratitude.  Awesome. 

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