Does this sound like you:
You say “please” and “thank you.” You write obligatory “thank you” notes to clients and after birthday parties (maybe). You make sure to put extra volume and emphasis on the words “thank you” when you know someone had to pick up your slack. You may even go so far as to make a self-depreciating comment about your tardiness, etc.
You are grateful for your family when they lend you money or pick you up from the airport. You are grateful your dog (or cat or fish) doesn’t nag you to do the dishes or make your bed. You are grateful for your job when you hear that a friend was recently laid off. You are grateful your kids are safe and (mostly) healthy, even if they do test your limits.
Isn’t that practicing gratitude? To be honest, no; you’ve barely placed your big toe in the ocean. Not that this approach is wrong, but it is surface and stunted in its possibilities.
Practicing gratitude is like exploring the depths of the ocean. The more you explore, the more beauty and possibilities you discover. You eventually realize the vast expanse and depths of this ocean extend even beyond where you as a mere human can physically explore.
At its most potent, gratitude is a lifestyle. We’re talking a joyful, abundant, positive, peaceful, care-free lifestyle.
Does this sound like a hippy-dippy impossibility? Well, consistently living in bliss probably means some chemical intervention, and that’s not where I’m going with this. Life will always have surprises and challenges, always. But your anchor, the attitude you keep returning to, can be gratitude if you practice it correctly.
To really start this kind of lifestyle, here’s the first question to ask yourself:
Where are you placing your gratitude?
We all know we need to count our blessings one by one. And that’s great. It’s healthy to be focused on what you have rather than what you don’t. Think about abundance and you’ll start to feel a greater sense of abundance.
But gratitude isn’t thinking about stuff. It’s not even thinking about people.
When you receive a gift do you thank the gift? (Have you ever seen a parent make a child say, “Thank you Tickle Me, Elmo. I appreciate you.”) No, you thank the person who gave the gift.
“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:6
By recognizing our stuff, our job, and our family and friends as gifts from God, we recognize the true provider. And not just any old plain-Jane provider; but the eternal, ever-constant provider.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17
Jobs and friends come and go. To simply be grateful for those things is a surface gratitude with limited possible feelings. Mere things will not be affected by your gratitude. The feeling dies with you and goes no further.
Appreciation is an emotion nurtured when it is exchanged. It snowballs as it is passed between two affected beings. Two people feeling gratitude for one another is a love exchange; but it is still exchanged between two broken people. This is better, but there will always be a hesitation or sliver of doubt in the exchange.
The Lord is forever fixed. He will never leave you and He will not stop chasing after you. He will always meet you where you are, no matter your past choices. There is no hesitation in His exchange of love. You need not hesitate for fear of His rejection.
“Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.” – Psalm 23:6 (MSG)
Even when we fear all is lost, we can always thank Him for the sunrise, the beauty of His creation, and the carefully balanced nature in which we live. For He took great care to create the world and each individual inhabitant, including you.
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11
You can trust that there are more things coming along your journey for which you will be grateful as long as you seek after the Lord.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
|Ginny Priz is a Christian coach, writer and speaker. Ginny has overcome her own drama with a prosthetic arm, alcohol, panic disorder, and codependency. She has a passion for guiding others toward the same peace and freedom she has come to experience. Ditching drama is possible for anyone “armed” with God and the Serenity Prayer! It’s never too late to start your own Serenity Journey.|