Today marks the first in what I hope will become a series of articles on building better relationships with others, with God, and with yourself through gratitude.
I’m setting out to do this because I feel that as a nation we’ve become disillusioned and angry. We’ve fallen into a pattern of seeing the worst in people, in looking for ways to pick apart people who are on the “other side,” whether it be politics, religion, or just anyone who disagrees with us. We are negative, and it’s hurting us.
I spent a lot of time puzzling through how we got this way, and I have some theories, but that’s not what this is about. In fact, it’s the opposite of what this is about. Rather than analyze our disappointment, I’d rather try to turn it around, to bring us back to the place when we knew how good we had it, and things looked brighter as a result.
Thanksgiving is next week, so I can’t think of a better time to start a Gratitude Journal, and I can’t think of a better place than a Christian magazine to debut it. The Bible tells us over and over how important it is to acknowledge and be grateful for what God has given us.
Let’s take a look at one Bible verse that speaks to our need to be thankful, even when we are dissatisfied with the world around us.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
It’s the will of God. He wills us to be grateful, to give thanks, to not just notice but appreciate all that we have and all He has done.
We will not find a more perfect time than the Thanksgiving season to commit to giving thanks in all circumstances. And what a beautiful way to enter Advent with the right frame of mind – with preparation and acceptance and peace.
So what does this look like? I suggest finding a time of day when you are most open to reflective prayer. By reflective prayer, I mean really thinking about what’s going on in your life, the people who are in it, and the environment in which you live. The only rule is that before you ask God for anything, you first thank Him for everything you can think of. None of it has to be huge. It can be how blue the sky is today or that moment yesterday when your teenager asked your advice or your spouse looked at you with love. It can be the phone call you got from an old friend or the compliment you received at work or the fact that the grocery store finally had that one elusive item you’ve been searching for.
I’ve found that once I start praying with gratitude, I feel an onrushing of blessings. As I pray for my loved ones, I always find at least one reason to be thankful for my recent interaction with them. Sometimes, I’m just thankful that my daughter is independent or my son is as Type A as I am. I might be thankful that my husband’s back is feeling a little better today or that my dog is my constant companion.
Like everything, the key is to start. Just start. Commit to finding something to be grateful for every single day, then start your conversation with God on that note.
In my next entry into this journal, and each one after, I’ll share a Bible verse and talk more about how and why this small adjustment in your life can completely transform it. Stay tuned!