Where does your gratitude come from?
When does it appear in your heart?
And is it conditional?
These may not be the questions asked at your Thanksgiving dinner if you have a holiday tradition of sharing gratitude moments, but these are the questions I’m thinking about as this year’s season of gratitude is held right in the middle of the traumatic fires and shooting images, not to mention my own personal family tragedy that’s heavy on my heart.
These are important questions to ask if you’re having a hard time finding something to be grateful for in the middle of stressful times. Are you thankful when things are going your way? Or are you able to find gratitude in recognition of God’s grace? This year I invite you to look at gratitude as a response to your belief in and awareness of God’s grace.
Gratitude takes on so much more meaning when it comes from a recognition of God’s grace. God’s grace is a free gift from God. It’s God’s very life within your being. There’s no earning it; it’s always around. All we have to do is recognize it, name it and give thanks for it. It’s the best formula for gratitude.
Recognize it: Every moment of every day will present an opportunity to recognize God’s grace. Whether it’s a comforting phone call from a friend or a beautiful golden leaf that’s just fallen off a tree at the change of the seasons, you can always find expressions of God’s beauty and love.
Name it: Once you recognize God’s grace, give God the credit, especially in the ordinary moments. The more you praise God for the seemingly ordinary moments of grace, the easier it will be to find them in the more stressful moments of your life. The more you get in the practice of finding your grace-filled moments, the more you’ll be comforted that God’s presence is always around.
Give thanks for it: When you give thanks to God for every moment of grace, you’re making your gratitude practice a prayer. This practice will sustain you through anything, as opposed to a gratitude practice that comes from everything going your way, which is not a recipe for a peace-filled life.
Rooting your gratitude in God’s grace makes gratitude an awareness that every moment is a pure gift from God. The more I recognize this, the more I see there are no entitlements in life and the more I treasure each moment, each person, and each event in my life as a beautiful act of love from God.
Rooting your gratitude in God’s grace keeps you connected to God’s joy and goodness. Last weekend I held a thank you dinner for some of the women in my neighborhood who helped me and my family during my son’s 25 day nightmare in the hospital this past summer. Making the dinner, planning my friendship prayer and creating a special evening for them fed my soul. Of course it didn’t take away the pain of losing my son, but it did connect me to the God-centered goodness that I experience through them. Those feelings of God’s goodness transcend the pain. Those moments of pure love fuel hope.
This month (and every month!) I invite you to practice gratitude with an awareness of God’s grace. It will fill your heart with love and offer the promise of hope.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, “Grace and Gratitude: Cultivating a heart that believes I have enough, I do enough, I am enough” is our next retreat starting in March. Learn more here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on gratitude. Do you practice gratitude? Share your gratitude practice with us. Please comment below so everyone can see and feel the beauty of a faith-filled community of sharing. You don't have to subscribe, just write a comment in the box, click on "post comment", and enter your name. You don't have to fill in your email or name a website to comment as a guest.
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