“A grateful heart will be revealed and expressed by thankful words, while an unthankful heart will manifest itself in murmuring and complaining.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss Choosing Gratitude
A few weeks ago, my dear husband, whose willingness to say hard things made me like him all the more when we were dating, took it upon himself to tell me that I was complaining. A lot. Needless to say, I didn’t particularly like being told this and promptly decided that his willing to say hard things was a great fault that I no longer liked.
But the sad fact is that he was right. (Someone check on him, ’cause he may have just had heart failure upon hearing those words). Lots of things happened to us last year. Most of which I did NOT like and did not want to happen. And I became quite sick of those things happening. And I became quite vocal about it. I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. Sometimes it’s hard to turn your face to the sunshine when the big, ugly storm clouds are looming on the horizon.
Just like most things in life, you have to practice facing the sunshine. You have to practice looking for the good. You have to practice GRATITUDE.
I decided that in order to do that I needed to have something to focus on daily. I’m a busy mom who is usually overly practical, so I decided to keep it simple. I found a frame, one I wasn’t using, wrote the words “Today I’m Thankful For” on a piece of paper, put it in the frame that already had a mat, grabbed a dry erase marker, and called it good.
Now, I have big plans for this little frame. I’d like to paint it and actually print a pretty little version of the center phrase. But another one of my MORE things for this year is more DOING and less PERFECTING (we’ll get to that another week). So this is it!
Every morning, I walk down the hall and see it sitting on the little sideboard next to my kitchen. I grab my dry erase marker and write down whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t’ have to be big, virtuous things like “I’m thankful for my health, my family, my life that was given to me by God”. It can be simple. Like “I’m thankful for toasters and houseshoes” (see below).
One of the few books I read a couple of years ago was Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It was good, challenging, and inspiring. At the end of the book, she has a 30 day Devotional Guide. There’s some good stuff there. At one point she defines gratitude as “learning to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits we have received from God and from others.” Fancy, eh? Basically, she tells us that when we “express appreciation” we are being purposeful and intentional to thank God and others. Thinking of those things as “benefits” takes out any feeling of entitlement that may be lurking in the dark corners of our hearts. She then provides the reader with a Gratitude Check (which one applies to you?):
__ I look at the world through grateful eyes and consistently express my gratitude to God and others.
__ I know I’ve been greatly blessed, but I don’t often stop to actually express my gratitude to God and others.
__ To be honest, I had not thought a lot about gratitude […]. I’ve got a long way to go to develop a lifestyle of gratitude.
__ I’m a whiner! I tend to focus on my problems and I frequently express them to others.
So, how did you fare? I’m keeping my score a secret, but I’m hoping that as the year progresses my score will move up!
Here’s to 2012 being a year with MORE Gratitude!!!