The Practice of Gratitude

Posted by Joe Filbrun, SCS Board Member
 
For many people, the beginning of a new year is a natural time to assess the past, look to the future, make new goals, and recalibrate plans. I find myself doing that each January, too, and it can be very helpful. But I’ve also noticed something else that can sneak in with all that assessing and planning: dissatisfaction. If I’m not careful, looking back can become an exercise in dwelling on my failures or disappointments, and looking ahead can become an attempt at finding hope in false saviors who promise “new” and “improved.” 
 
So, this year, I’ve resolved to begin my assessment by focusing on the ways God has been faithful to me and my family over the past year. Rather than let dissatisfaction creep in, my goal is to start with gratitude. I don’t like admitting it, but it's actually been surprisingly hard to keep that focus. However, as I fight on I’m finding it to be a rich experience, and I’d commend it to you. 
 
This conviction didn’t come out of nowhere, but I was led here as a result of the discussion the school board has been having this year of James K.A. Smith’s You Are What You Love. As Tom mentioned in his 2016 Presidential Report, Smith’s book has led the board to contemplate the “liturgies” of our community and to consider how we might continue to encourage those habits and practices that help form and reinforce the substance of who we truly are (or desire to be) as a community, while also seeking to challenge any habits and practices that may be de-formative to our identity and purpose. In light of that, I want to share an insight I've gained that I believe is important for us as a community. 
 
God is faithful. I’ve heard it and said it my whole life, but I’m sure I haven’t always really believed it. I’m believing it more and more as I reflect on the past year. God brought our family to SCS in the Fall of 2015, but 2016 was when we began to understand more fully what it really means to be part of this amazing Christian community. To hear the stories of how this school was formed and how it has been sustained for many decades is to hear again and again of God’s faithfulness to and through this community, of diligent work, of sacrifices made, of gifts given and received, of lives shaped and formed by the good news that all of creation belongs to our faithful God who is both unfathomably great and yet personally present here and now. When I consider all of this, my response is a deep gratitude and a desire to do all that I can to play my part in sustaining and encouraging this community to flourish now and into the future, so that today’s students and many more generations will have the opportunity to celebrate God’s faithfulness to them through this school community.
 
Yet, if we forget our history, particularly the history of God’s faithfulness in our midst, we lose the substance of who we are as a community— our identity— and we can then be led down any number of paths that take us away from who we truly are meant to be. Let that not be the case with this generation of Shoreline Christian School! 
 
Let us remember who we are and how we came to be that, and let us commit ourselves to being true to that identity now and in the future. But, let’s be real: to be who we are and thrive as a community, we each must do our part. That reality is both a challenge and a wonderful gift, for it is when we unite together to give of ourselves for a common purpose that we truly experience the blessings of community.