"Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint." ~ Henri J. M. Nouwen
This last week, my 1 year old learned how to say “Thank you.”. It’s probably the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard, as he says it with a high pitched, “Tate Ooo.” Valerie and I had been working with Caleb ever since he learned “Please,” but for some reason “Thank you” was a challenge. The funny thing about it is…now he wont stop! Every 30 seconds he’s telling us “Tate Ooo” for something!! And by something, I mean EVERYTHING!
Friday night, he did something to warrant a few minutes in a time-out chair. I sat him down and explained why he was being disciplined and then walked around the corner…For the next minute (because it was all I could handle…) I heard him yelling, “TATE OOO, DADA! DADDY…TATE OOO!” It’s hard to discipline and laugh at the same time! I went back in the room, trying to conceal my laughter, and gave him a hug…and told him “You’re welcome son.” Haha! I hope this carries over to his teenage years! I can hear him saying, "Dad, I really appreciate your discipline and I am grateful for the punishment I am about to receive." I'm thinking I should probably just enjoy these moments right now - cause that's not gonna happen!
Anyways, this got me to reflect on gratitude, and how much like my son, Caleb, I can be so quick to ask for things, yet it takes me a lot longer to be thankful.
I can remember a time in my life where I was worn out and stressed out, things were not going like I had planned, and I was border-line depressed about my situation. I had spent months asking God to change my circumstances and complaining when they stayed the same.
I came home from work late one night, after a horrendous 15 hour shift (you know, one of those days as a manager when anything that could go wrong - does go wrong), and sat in my living room and grabbed a sheet of notebook paper…at the top of the blank page I wrote “Things I Am Thankful For...” I don’t know why I did this because, honestly, it had been a long time since being grateful had even been on my radar. Before even writing anything down, I began to realize what God was doing in that moment. I had been so focused on the things I wished were different…I was missing out on the ways God was trying to bless my life.
I wrote down everything I could think of, from little things like my hunting dog "Boone", to big things like a loving and supportive family, the ability to work, and a roof over my head. I easily filled up the page and just about the time I was running out of room I was overwhelmed with God’s grace and His love - all from a taking five minutes to be thankful.
I wonder if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation? Maybe you are there right now? My challenge to you today is to recognize and be reminded of the things in your life that deserve your gratitude.
- Take a moment today, and on a blank sheet of paper I want you to write at the top, “Things I Am Thankful For…” Write down anything that comes to mind that you can be thankful for.
- Were you surprised at how many things made your list?
- This week, in your conversations and in your thoughts, when you are tempted to complain – intentionally have an attitude of gratitude.
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." ~ Colossians 3:15 (NIV)