Saturday, April 14, 2012

Gratitude


Gratitude is a spiritual discipline.  What are some others?  We don’t think of it as a discipline but it is.  It is one that we have to practice because it is not natural.  Think about when your children are small.  Did they naturally say “thank you?”  You probably had to remind them over and over to say it.  Anything that is not natural to us has to be practiced as a discipline.  We have to intentionally put it into our lives.  Not just “thank you for the food.”

It has to be a discipline because thankfulness affects everything else in our lives.  It affects our health.  If we are grumbling, worrying, complaining, wanting more, discontent, it’s eventually going to affect the basic cells of our bodies. 

It affects our relationships.  If we are not thankful to others, it won’t be long before our relationships suffer.

It affects our spiritual lives.  If we practice thankfulness, maybe it would change our prayer life.  Too much of prayer is whining. 

Where does thankfulness come from?  Humility and surprise.  People who think they deserve everything they have or get are not going to be thankful.  It’s their due.  I am thankful to God for my job, which I love, but I do not go to the president of my college and thank him for my paycheck every month (maybe I should, but he wouldn’t care).  I work hard to the college and it is my due as an employee.  So humility vs. entitlement is first.  Then surprise. 

Children are surprised by things.  Are you ever surprised by something?  What surprised you lately?  Are you thankful for the surprise?  Sometimes I’ll be walking with my dog and see an aspect of nature I have never seen.  I should be thankful for that.  Last week I worked at a dog competition.  I was surprised by that.  Being surprised really helps thankfulness. 

I have started to read a writer named Ann Voskamp on the Internet.  She writes about thankfulness.  She sees everything as a gift from God, even things that other would take for granted.  Seeing a little frog in a puddle.  That’s because she has six children and sees a lot of the world through their eyes.  

So, what I am saying is, to practice and live the discipline of thankfulness and gratitude, you have to begin with a humble heart, an intention to be thankful, and eyes to notice.  What I have learned this week is that I am not going to practice this discipline unless I am still.  Be still and know that I am God.



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