I’m sad to say that I’ve always kind of thought that it’s not worth my time to ‘practice gratitude.’
I’ve considered myself quite above the practice…thinking that when people ‘count their blessings,’ they’re doing something a little bit hokey, a little bit like living in a ‘Pollyanna-type’ reality. They’re just looking on the bright side of things. I’ve considered myself more realistic than that, more authentic than that, and guess what?
I’ve missed out.
I’ve thought that not practicing gratitude would not affect me. I even thought that it might make me a more authentic person. But I was wrong.
I’ve been experiencing an elevated level of anxiety in this season of my life. Or maybe, more honestly, it’s just that the anxiety that I typically have going on under the surface, that I’ve learned to cope with, is more apparent.
As I’ve asked the Lord about this anxiety, I keep hearing His invitation to practice gratitude. At first, it seemed odd. It seemed like I was probably hearing wrong. Too much of a simple fix. But I read a book on gratitude, and the author sort of grappled through all of the same reasons I had for not practicing gratitude, and she also came to the conclusion at the end that gratitude was something essential that she was missing, and that the lack of gratitude in her life was affecting her deeply. I could relate.
So I’ve started trying to practice gratitude.
And as I’ve started, I’ve found that gratitude is not just a practice of ‘looking on the bright side of things.’ It’s a re-orientation for my eyes to really see life in an accurate way: I have been given everything I have. I am taken care of completely. I have a Father who carries me, and turns every evil and difficultly into good through His miraculous resurrection power. I am so loved. There is a God who is control.
These things are true, but when I choose to not practice thanking God, remembering God, I miss out on the real realities of the universe. And I live in an alternate reality where life feels out of control, scary, overwhelming.
When I don’t practice gratitude, I get confused. My eyes get clouded to the way life really is. Gratitude helps me return to reality.
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”
“And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.’ Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God, who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.” Deuteronomy 1:27-33
May we, today, have the courage to take the steps that we need to, to remember God’s good care of us…and to thank Him for it. May we live having the courage to yet again be faithful to do our part to lay hold of the true realities of life.