Gratitude Shmatitude

My family and I are reading Choosing Gratitude by Leigh DeMoss together, and let me tell you, wow. I’ve read similar books in the past, but evidently I needed reminding that we are not slaves to the bad elements in our lives. Instead, we can choose thankfulness and create joy.

Such a challenge seems outrageous, ridiculous even, especially when you feel you have the right to grouse, when you feel like garbage, can’t participate in life, and/or everything is going wrong. It is natural to complain or feel self-pity, but doing so is like pitching your tent in a mud puddle. It’s dumb. Sure, things are hard. Sure, we wish they were different. 

But they aren’t.

What’s your next move? You can be miserable inside your own mind, carrying a weight of depression and hopelessness, and be a plague to those around you… or you can choose to focus on all the things in your life that are good, the things that haven’t capsized.

Let me be honest, when I am in the grip of a particular trial, this feels like a stupid thing to do. But the practice is like a train peaking the rise; it starts slow, but boy does it pick up speed. Be thankful for small things like a yummy breakfast or fresh coffee, and enjoy it fully. You aren’t owed a yummy breakfast, and what if there was a coffee bean plague, and we all had to drink tea every day?? 

{No offense to my tea drinkers, but no brewed leaf can substitute the bean}. 

List and list these things as you come across them. Fill your head space with the things surrounding you that make you happy, and keep your head from traveling down paths that say, “Yes, but-” “I would really be able to enjoy it if-” “I can’t be happy about this because-” 

Stop. Redirect. Be stubborn about it. 

Today, I will not travel down the well-worn road of all that’s wrong in my life. I know it well enough. I’ve thought about the eventualities and the things that need doing. I do not need to roll around in my bad feelings.

I encourage you to take the time to fully acknowledge all of your big blessings too. Does someone love you, family, friend, spouse, pet? It is no small thing to be loved, to be cared about, listened to, supported. But so often we think, “Yeah, yeah, of course I’m thankful for you…” Hold up now! I am thankful God has placed another luminescent being in my life to bless me and for me to bless. That’s huge. And it brings me to the most important point. There’s no point in being thankful without having someone to be thankful toward.

God. No, it’s not easy to understand why He allows hardship in our lives. But if He loved us to such a wild, intense extent as to sacrifice His Son to make us His children, He has a purpose for what we are currently facing. He doesn’t enjoy our pain. He loves us. What He is doing in your life may not look like love or feel like love in the moment, but that is because His truer love is far beyond what we can comprehend, so much deeper, wiser, better. We know that from His Word. We do not need to understand.

If you are still feeling like there is no possible way you can live thankfully in the midst of the chaos of your life, you’re right. We cannot do it without the Holy Spirit. Ask Him for a thankful heart. Ask to see the width and breadth of what you’ve been given. Remember those who have gone before you, who have overflowed with thankfulness in the midst of terrible straits: the apostle Paul, stoned and in prison, Corrie and Betsy ten Boom, ill and in a concentration camp, and Joni Eareckson Tada, paralized and in a wheelchair.

With God, all things are possible. 

And trust me, the gratitude train is a much better way to travel than via the slough of despond.

Sometimes when I embark on this challenge of gratitude, I am sarcastic, but my bitterness cannot win out in the long run against the fact that I am blessed.

I am thankful that I live in a day and age when there are medications to help.

I am thankful to have been gifted this.

I am thankful Lynn has a strong back and can carry me when I fall.

I am thankful this book is true, even when I am too bleary of eye and brain to read its words.

I am thankful God loves me, even when I am mad at Him.

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**Check out last Wednesday’s post, “Grousy Mousy,” a children’s poem about appreciating life’s little blessings, and leave a comment to enter the giveaway!

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