The Glad Game

“Let’s play the glad game!” The golden-haired, azure-eyed child declared to a group of grumpy-faced adults. Her silly phrase got me thinking, do I look for reasons to be glad?

Two Fridays ago my husband and I nestled onto the sofa and put in the Disney classic Pollyanna. I prepared myself for a few cheesy lines. I expected the drama-turned-to-joy storyline. But I didn’t anticipate learning a spiritual practice from the 1960 film.

If I take an honest inventory of my life, gratitude is often absent. I overlook the good things before me—friendship, food on the table, family, —because I’m focused on what I don’t possess. And as gripe about what I don’t have and grasp for more, I miss the grace staring me in the face. 

So I decided to play the glad game. Every evening as my husband and I sat down to dinner last week, we shared five things we were grateful for. Our list ranged from payday to a simply prepared meal, from good health to a lazy evening.

The more we played the game, the more grateful I felt. I saw God’s hand in places I’d normally take for granted. I approached my work with greater humility, realizing that the responsibilities I’d been given were a gift. I noticed how critical I became of others when I focused on my insecurities and insufficiencies.

Dan Allender writes, “The fruit of gratitude is a freedom from death and its countless cousins—fear, shame, estrangement, and more. And what grows from freedom? A playful, curious connectedness to the unveiling of new grace in pleasure and in sorrow.”*

What if saw my lack as an opportunity to receive God’s provision? What if saw my neediness as a reminder of my daily desire for grace? What if saw the simple gifts scattered throughout my week as glimpses of God’s attentiveness?

If I really chose to look at life through this lens, I would see God and his goodness everywhere. If I decided to live out of gratitude, I would stop grasping for the next season, promotion, or opportunity. And as a result, I’d be glad.

So here’s my challenge for you. Play the glad game for one week. At the end of each day, sit down with your spouse, call a girlfriend, text your mom and tell him or her five reasons that you’re grateful.

Then notice what changes in your outlook. Pay attention to your longing for grace. Listen to the words that come out of your mouth. After one week, are you less grumpy and increasingly glad? Post a comment and share your experience.

I’m finding that the glad game is changing me one day at a time. One week wasn’t enough, so this week we’re playing another round. And for that, I’m grateful.

*From Leading with a Limp, p. 146