It snowed this morning. For this girl from the Deep South who’s only seen snow maybe twice in the last thirteen years, it was a big deal. My dog and I played in the back yard while the white flakes peppered our hair. Such a fun way to start the day. It made me feel like a little girl again trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue. The snow has now turned to rain and I am tucked away inside, out of the elements, sipping on a cup of coffee with oat milk creamer. This is new for me, this oat milk thing, but so far it hasn’t been too bad.
I’m also trying my first ever Acai bowl. I’ll let you know if it’s any good.
Seems this is a season for “new.”
At the first of this New Year a word started coming to mind randomly. I would be thinking about something else entirely and this word would pop up and interrupt my thoughts. I would push it aside and continue my thoughts a little annoyed that it kept coming up. It was a persistent word and I couldn’t shake it. Some people choose a word for the year, it helps them to stay focused and to keep a theme in their day-to-day lives. I’ve tried to do it before, but it seems about half way through June I’m left wondering what the word was? And why I chose it?? So when this persistent word kept interrupting my life, I had no choice but to ask the Lord if it was meant for me. I had decided not to do the word for the year thing, I was going to leave that to folks a lot more organized and goal oriented than me.
You know, the Lord can be a little bossy. If you know Him, and I desperately hope you do, you know I’m telling the truth. Could be He’s bossy because He is the boss, but I suspect in this case it’s because he knew how much embracing this word and the theology behind it would make a difference in my life.
So, here I am declaring a word for the year. Well, maybe not the whole year bur for the foreseeable future. It really is something I should internalize all the time but, sadly, I don’t.
So simple in theory, but not so simple to live it daily. Saying I’m thankful is a good start, but to really live a thankful life has proven to be a little tougher than I’d imagined. For example, am I thankful the snow turned to boring rain?? Nope. I was on the elliptical this morning watching the snow out the glass doors, it was magical, and, then as I watched helplessly the white flakes turn to watery blobs, I grumbled.
Why is complaining so easy?? No one helps with the dishes, the car is out of gas again, the house needs dusting; and didn’t I just do that a few days ago? The lights in this fitting room make me want to never try on another piece of clothing again. My child didn’t return my thirteenth phone call, what do you mean you forgot you’re the snack student for the whole class tomorrow…there’s just so much to complain about.
I’ve found complaining and gratitude can’t coexist, at least not for long.
I looked up the meaning of gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Doesn’t that sound like a great way to live?
Honestly, I was a little offended when God kept pushing that word on me. I mean, I thought I was grateful, thankful…whatever. Maybe he had mistaken me for someone else, someone less abundantly thankful than me. I say grace before every meal and everything. But when I finally surrendered to the idea that I needed more gratitude, I felt such a peace. This is exactly what I am supposed to be focusing on right now. There was no mistake.
If you’ve followed my blog the past two weeks you know I’ve been struggling with purpose. Then I found surrender. And now it seems I’m giving in to gratitude. I don’t know myself at all, it would seem.
Here’s what I do know so far as I’m approximately forty five minutes into this journey. Just kidding, it has been a few days. I have a long road ahead. I’ve learned in these few days of not JUST being thankful but having INTENTIONAL gratitude, that life looks a LOT brighter when you’re looking at the bright side. I’ve learned gratitude can diffuse anxiety and lift a heart in despair. I’ve learned when I’m thankful for the things in my past, in my present and those yet to come, I feel so much lighter inside. Isn’t that what Jesus is? The LIGHT of the world? I’m seeing a strong connection here.
Gratitude is not just a list of words we string together, it sets the tone of our heart.
Well, I guess the rain is not so bad, it makes a cup of coffee taste like comfort. That mean lady that cut in front of me in line at Wal-Mart isn’t going home with me, so that’s good. My bad hair day can be a conversation starter or the dishes in the sink can be a reminder that I had food to eat. Cleaning up dog poop in the yard may be a chance to talk to the neighbor who is outside doing the same thing. The bad traffic might be a chance to listen to that podcast I’ve been putting off. Maybe when every register at Target has a long line it’s the Lord giving me a chance to stand still for a minute and gather my harried thoughts.
I have a lot more to learn.
Gratitude is a lifestyle, and it is work, but man, so far, it has been so worth it.
I want to challenge you to join me in a quest for more gratitude. For those of you who have mastered this virtue, I would love to hear your stories of how God taught you to be more thankful. He’s teaching me through a season of longing for purpose and learning surrender.
And by sipping coffee while watching the rain.