Friday, March 5, 2010
If you were able to read any of my gratitudes last year, you basically saw what Rich Mullins called "the hatching of a heart". My life was made new because I CHOSE gratitude. You can be a Christian all your life, but the missing ingredient of a grateful heart can make you miss out on life. Christians have bad attitudes and they struggle to focus on the good, just like everyone else. I'm glad I recognized my lack last April, and since then my life has been fuller and more open than it ever was. I always had moments where I FELT grateful, but writing them down every day forced me to focus on being thankful for everything.
Last year's daily lists were meant to get me in the habit of thinking in a thankful way and having a grateful heart. And it worked! It changed my life. I'm continuing with it in a little bit of a different way this year because this is a new chapter. Now that I have made gratitude an actual part of my life, I know that it will continue to be, no matter what I do to the format of my posts, or whether or not I post daily. I chose to change my heart. God can do everything, but some of it he leaves up to us and the choices we make.
I'm grateful for...
Choices. God gives them to us knowing that we could screw up. He gives us the ability to feel gratitude, but he doesn't force us to feel it. There's something about your child being genuinely grateful, instead of forcing them to say "thank you", that really warms your heart as a parent. I have a feeling that God feels that way, too.
Peace. I love the feeling of peace I can have in the middle of the storm. I have to say that I don't always FEEL it because I choose not to (Why? I don't know.). Worry makes us feel in control, and it's a way a person tries to take control of a situation over which they have no control...There are times when I try to take control from God. I try to think up ways that I can get around the resting He calls me to. Humans like to feel the push and pull of life sometimes, and that's probably because a state of rest isn't natural for us. It's uncomfortable to choose not to worry or get angry. It's uncomfortable to choose joy over depression. Those choices aren't our natural tendencies, but God calls us out of what's comfortable. It's strange that joy and peace and rest aren't comfortable to us, but it's true.
Time. The more I've focused on living at rest, the more I've realized how much more time I have in my day. I didn't realize how much time I was spending rushing and flitting around like a little bird in a new cage. Gratitude has given me time, and that's the biggest gift I've ever received. I have time to sit and talk to my kids. I have time to think about life and how grateful I am for each moment. I have my busy days, just like everyone else, but I don't struggle as often with being busy for busyness' sake. Why do I have more time? I think it's because I no longer want self-imposed busyness. I don't want drama or people who create it. I don't want worry. I don't want depression. When I shifted my focus from all of those things and I focused on being grateful, my life got considerably less busy. It makes me think of an old song we used to sing in church:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace
And it's so true. Turning your eyes away from the things of the world, and the hands that are always reaching out to pull you in different directions, sharpens your focus.
My hope for you today is that you turn your eyes away from your obstacles and away from all the worry, busyness and drama of life. Look full in his wonderful face. The way to do that is to choose gratitude. Gratitude only works if you have someone to thank. Gratitude is looking into his face and saying "thank you." Try it. You'll notice that all the unnecessary things will fade away and your focus will only be on what's important. I PROMISE you that the more often you focus on gratitude, the less often you'll be depressed, angry, bitter or worried.
So this is the beginning of my journey with a gratitude blog. I have been posting forever on FB. I have a couple of other blogs I've started, but I wanted to change the name. It is an appropriate beginning of the continuation of my journey...can you have a beginning of a continuation? Oh, well. You know what I mean.