Just as I did at the start of 2014, I pondered, prayed, and reflected over the past month to come up with one word that I would try to focus on for the year. The word that came to me was “gratitude.”
Gratitude is easy when you are clearly surrounded by life’s blessings and you feel like things are going well for you. But what about when you are going through a tough time? Unfortunate circumstances can make it difficult to see the good and to be grateful for what is happening to you or around you. It can be especially hard to discover the silver lining in the dark clouds at this time. But, I believe, in many cases, if we look hard enough, we can find something in each moment to latch onto and to be thankful for.
“I have learned to be content
whatever the circumstances. I can do everything
through him who gives me strength …
God will meet all your needs.”
Philippians 4:11, 13, 19 (NIV)
My goal for this year is to “Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude” despite my circumstances. I created a place on a whiteboard (see above) to remind myself of some of the things I am grateful for on an ongoing basis. Currently, it shows things like family, friends, Bart, Bella, work, nature, and books. What I’d like to do throughout the year is to replace these easy-to-come-up-with concepts with things that might not at first seem to be something one would be thankful or grateful for. I want to dive deeper into my feelings and my life situations and attempt to discover the good within the “bad” or the uncomfortable.
I invite you to join me on this journey. I’m thinking about creating some “Growing in Gratitude” kits (including colorful string, mini-clothespins, and pieces of paper in various shapes, sizes, and patterns) for my Etsy shop, depending on interest level. So, let me know if you might be interested in something like that and if so, I’ll put some kits together. Otherwise, it’s very easy to create your own gratitude journal or board, using regular paper and colorful markers or pencils, or whatever strikes your fancy. You can update the concepts daily, weekly, monthly, or whenever the mood hits. There is no right or wrong way to highlight or reflect on your blessings.
“God, send me anywhere, only go with me.
Lay any burden on me, only sustain me.
And sever any tie in my heart except the tie
that binds my heart to yours.”
As Zig Ziglar says: “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
What helps you maintain an attitude of gratitude? I would love it if you would share some of your thoughts on this with me, as I plan to continue writing about this topic throughout the year.
Thank you, and have a blessed day.
“The dominant characteristic of an authentic spiritual life is the gratitude that flows from trust—not only for all the gifts that I receive from God, but gratitude for all the suffering. Because in that purifying experience, suffering has often been the shortest path to intimacy with God.” —Brennan Manning