Gratitude

Embracing emotion doesn’t come naturally to me.

To be honest, 98.5% of the time, I have a hard time feeling anything at all. Even when I do, I subconsciously try to suppress those feelings. Call it a weird psychological trait, if you will.

Yet this lack of feeling can be a bit of a problem when it comes to the Christian life. We Christians are supposed to be intensely joyful people who don’t back down from emotions, and one cannot be a joyful person if one suppresses emotion. During a recent family Bible study time with the younger children, we talked about how Christians should have the joy of God in our hearts because Jesus has saved us, and I realized just how much I had strayed from that perspective.

But God never leaves a problem without a solution. I have been studying Jeff Myers’ course on biblical leadership (yes, I have the most awesome college ever!) and recently Dr Myers taught about the three foundations of leadership. The first is vision- knowing what you want to have accomplished at the end of your life. The second is mission- the practical steps that help you to achieve your vision. The third one is gratitude.

(*Cue the crickets*) Seriously? Gratitude? I know, it seems far-fetched. Of all the things that Dr Myers could have cited as a foundation for leadership… integrity, honesty, courage, ingenuity, flexibility, humanity… why would he say gratitude is the foundation? Is it really so important?

Yet I decided to give it a try. I revived my old habit of thanking God for three things every morning and trying to remember throughout the day that I have been blessed with those three things. I could thank God for anything- faithfulness, chocolate, adjectives… anything goes. It was a simple practice that I could do every morning after reading my Bible and every night before I fell asleep. And do you know what? The results surprised me.

Now you may have heard what psychological research says. Having a grateful attitude causes people to be more satisfied, optimistic, agreeable, spiritual, and neurologically healthy. And of course, all of those things did indeed happen, and I did get a lot more work done with much more fulfillment than before.

But I wasn’t prepared for how much more gratefulness this little exercise gave me.

Recently, as I was lying in bed, thanking God again for those three blessings, I remembered one in particular for that day: words. I was thankful for words. I remembered how I had used words throughout the day- for encouragement and enlightenment (well, debate), as well as for hurting others. I prayed about all of these things, and then I realized that another blessing: that God gave us the tool of language to help us accomplish His plan. Again, when I thanked God for creating the trees and grass, I forgot about the terrible Texas allergies and was able to thank God for the sheer beauty of springtime.

Maybe I am inclined to overthink things, but in this case, it’s not a matter of overthinking. The bottom line is that, when I made a prayerful effort to be grateful, God helped me to feel more gratitude. It really just put the whole world back into perspective for me.

I know it’s hard to feel grateful sometimes. Yet when I experience that feeling of thankfulness, I realize that it’s something I don’t want to miss anymore. And I don’t want you to miss it, either, which is why I am writing about it on a blog. I want to challenge you- informally- to thank God every day for just three things in your life and continue to thank Him throughout the day. See how it changes your perspective.

Share itShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

4 comments

  1. Caity says:

    That`s a great idea to thank God for three things every day. I think I will try it. I always feel like I notice the little bad things and ask God for help, but overlook the little GOOD things. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Ashlyn says:

      I know, it’s humbling to realize that we notice the bad things more than the good. Often I even forget to thank God for answering my prayers about the little bad things, and I don’t want to forget anymore. 🙂

Comments are closed.