Thankfulness: Finding Beauty and Joy in the Mundane

Have you ever been caught unaware by a storm that came out of nowhere? Think of a sunny and calm day with a few clouds suddenly turning into a windy, wet storm with flashes of lighting and roars of thunder.

Well, I live in a place where we get excited about even a few drops of rain, and where the local meteorologists get super excited about funnel cloud sightings and hail the size of a mustard seed.

So, last night, after another sunny day in California, a rare and spectacular thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere – a majestic display of lightning across the sky, followed by rolling thunder, followed by gusty wind, and followed by a generous amount of rain that soaked the water-starving trees and plants.

My son and I had front row seats to this rare and unique show from our second-story window. We were both mesmerized by a night sky lit up by hundreds of lightning bolts. I was taking lots of pictures to post on my Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Views of a rare thunderstorm from our bedroom window

Neighbors all around us were also enjoying the display, their excitement evident from shouts like “whoa!” and “did you see that one?!” I was filled with joyful wonder and awe, thankful for the sheer opportunity to be able to witness such a rare storm.

The storm left as suddenly and abruptly as it came, leaving the night sky covered with shimmering stars. But it left me thinking about how often I miss extraordinarily beautiful things simply because they are there all the time.

I often take things for granted because I am used to having them. I miss out on the joy of being thankful for even the simplest pleasures of life, all because I am graced with them every day.

How often do you miss out on joy that comes from a thankful heart that sees extraordinary beauty in ordinarily mundane things?

For instance, I love the ocean. I love its openness, its majesty, and its strength. I love its ability to make me feel small, because it reminds me of the grandeur and majesty of its Creator. Also there is nothing like the fresh salty ocean air or the soothing sounds of rolling waves that make me want to take slow deep breaths and enable me to de-stress.

However, I wonder if I would appreciate the ocean just as much if I lived on a beach. Would it hold the same value to me? Or would it gradually lose its uniqueness in my eyes simply because I would be able to see it every day?

Same with the unexpected thunderstorms that bring joy and excitement to Californians who rarely get to witness lightning and thunder. I have a cousin who lives in North Carolina, and he would be puzzled by our reaction to a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms there are as common as sunny days in California. He gets on average 21 days of thunderstorms in the summer while I get 0, 🙂 according to this chart.

I am in no way jealous of my cousin’s experiences with thunderstorms. Just attempting to drive the point home for the purpose of this post.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes. 5:18

So… I came up with a list of everyday seemingly mundane but extraordinarily beautiful things I am thankful for:

  • Clean running water. I am not even talking about the privilege of having hot running water on demand… According to this source, “783 million people do not have access to clean water.”
  • Electricity/Gas. Being able to cook on a stove top… A dishwasher to clean dishes… Laundry and dryer to clean and dry my family’s dirty laundry… According to this source, “1.2 billion people are without access to electricity and more than 2.7 billion people are without clean cooking facilities.”
  • Shelter. My children live in a good home located in a safe neighborhood. One only needs to do a Google search for stories of innocent children hurt in drive-by shootings: the list is long and even one child hurt is too many. And what about the 640 million children in the world without adequate shelter?… Click on the link to read more global facts. Really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
  • Health. Just this week I was reminded how I often take this beautiful thing for granted. My 3 month old baby became sick with an infection. There I was, a sobbing wreck, watching her being poked and prodded while the doctors were trying to figure out the cause. My thoughts kept going out to all the parents of very sick babies. I prayed for my daughter’s healing and will continue praying for the healing of all the other sick kids.
  • A stable job. (And I happen to love it too.)
  • Medical care. I especially appreciate this as a medical professional.
  • Freedom of religion. Especially since my parents were persecuted for their faith in the former USSR. HERE is a list of countries that continue persecuting Christian believers.
  • Clean air. Just look at the pictures of cities like Beijing… Or you can check the most polluted countries in the world HERE.
  • Diapers. I still remember my mom hand washing countless gauze cloth layers used by my younger siblings.
  • Friendly and well-mannered people (for the most part). A friend visiting from Israel thought I knew all the people at our local park, including 5 or 6 bicyclists who zoomed past us on a trail.
  • Sidewalks and paved roads. You will know why if you have ever been to other counties like Russia or Ukraine.
  • Customer service. As Americans we get used to this “right” and feel a sense of entitlement. Again, if you have ever been to other countries where customer service is not on their list of priorities, you will understand this as well.
  • A loving husband and a good marriage (I won’t bore you with the mushy stuff).
  • For all the storms in my life. Just like the one that unexpectedly rolled in last night and taught me to be thankful for even the smallest things. Those storms shaped my character and taught me so many valuable lessons. The most important one: God is holding and carrying his children even through the fiercest F5 tornadoes.

This is only a little part of a long list of seemingly “common” and mundane things I am thankful for. But these become exquisitely beautiful things once I imagine a life without them…

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:15-17)

What are some of the beautifully mundane things you are thankful for? Join me in a call to give thanks to our Father for all the small things in our lives we get so accustomed to having.

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2 thoughts on “Thankfulness: Finding Beauty and Joy in the Mundane

  1. Hi Tanya,
    Hi also am very thankful for all these mandate things! I call them (and all things) miracles! Because God made them, and if God made then, then they’re miracles!
    God bless!
    Stew from Canada.

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