Somewhere along the way, I realized that "joy" was not a constant in my life. I realized that, and confessed it to God. I spent a lot of time worrying about what that meant about me and my relationship with Him. Did it mean I wasn't a good Christian? Did it mean I didn't really love Him? And, somewhere in the midst of my despair, God whispered that I am ungrateful. That's when we began our gratefulness journals. I'm still reading, praying, and working on being truly grateful. I think, maybe it's just me, but I think it will take me a lifetime to understand, fully appreciate, and truly develop an honestly thankful heart. It is deeper than just a "thank you". It encompasses so much more....it is doubtful I am yet to a point (or ever will be) where I can put it into words....
I would like to try to put into words what God revealed to me yesterday as I was reading. Gratitude comes out of humility. Have you ever thought about that? Gratitude comes out of humility. To me, that was such a profound thought. Being grateful means you have to confess that someone else did something to "better" your situation. Their kindness, gesture, gift, words, or whatever it is that the other person has done for you, brought you from a lower position to a higher one....you have to be humble in order to admit that without that person, you would still be in that lower state. You couldn't have brought yourself to this "better" position.
Think about all the little things that mean so much to you... in my journal yesterday, I was thankful that someone other than me filled the soap dispensers in the bathroom (without me asking, yeah!). Seriously, those dispensers, like toilet paper rolls, never get refilled, unless I do it. Every time I chose not to, because I'm either busy or rebelling against clean hands (wink, wink), I felt inadequate, like there's not enough of me to do it all.... but someone relieved me of that burden! They did it for me, not knowing how I felt about it... they lifted me up in many ways. Even the flowers my hubby bought the other day... they put a smile on my face that had not been there before. Whether the kindness big or small, I've been moved to a higher place.
Of course, it is easy to recognize how God's grace moves us to a higher position. How when it is lavished upon us, we are brought up to a higher position...one of co-heir with Christ. When before, I was filthy rags... Gratitude starts with admitting, "I am nothing without you God". I am nothing, have nothing, and will be nothing without His constantly giving me gifts to bring me to a higher position...the greatest of these gifts is grace and faith.
It is funny how I have never considered this before. Perhaps those of us (uh... I mean you) with pride issues, have a harder time with gratitude than others, because of the state of humility that is required.
***Interject that I started this post over a month ago and let it sit for lack of words.... NOW, I am so grateful for so much more in my life. Developing the habit of thankfulness by keeping our thankful journals has been an extraordinary blessing. My husband says he notices a difference in me and the kids. That's a wonderful byproduct. Things he noticed: our prayers even just at dinner, are more expressive of thanks, day to day activities seem to contain more gratitude, and grumbling and "defeatist" attitudes are lessening in all of us. He was even inspired to start his own journal. He said that his heart is redirected towards good things as he is forced to look for the good in order to record it and it stops the "drama" surrounding the negative things.
I've noticed a lot of people recording daily something they are thankful for. That's a wonderful start. I say challenge yourself to continue that past November. Challenge yourself to never repeat, and to come up with five things daily. Challenge your kids. Some days are truly harder than others. Some days, you won't feel thankful; do it anyway. I have had several days like this, and by the end of my grumbling, writing it out, and sharing it with my kids, I'm usually fixed!
We have so much to be thankful for...so much that we simply take for granted. So many little details that God lovingly pours over and generously gives to us are often overlooked by us. I am truly humbled that the God of the universe, God Most High, loves me, works for me, serves me, lavishes grace upon me, and cares about the little details and the big ones in my life. I am thankful that He is ever-present, constantly loving me, that I can see that in my day to day life, and that I have chosen to record it, share it with others, and thank my loving Father for it all!
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
*In this Wrap-up I posted a sample of our journals....I'll be posting more in the future as I roll out a project we've been working on.