My friend Mark makes gratitude look easy. It’s part of his everyday language. We’ve been friends for three years now, and repeatedly, I hear thankfulness on his lips and see it in his eyes. Mark is magnetic because he appreciates people and tells them so. Mark and I work with teenagers; Not an easy, carefree way to make a living. And dare I say, it can be a thankless job. Not with Mark, though; Pouring out gratitude, he makes the room a better place to be. “Mrs. Pourroy, I hope you know how much I truly appreciate you and your many talents.” I stop to look at him, in awe at how he speaks gratitude so freely and sincerely. When I ask him how he does it he says, “It started as a reminder to myself to appreciate the people around me. Now, it’s part of who I am.” Gratitude. It’s the single most impactful perspective in the human experience. The Oxford Dictionary defines gratitude as, “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” This “readiness” seems to exist so naturally in some and, in others… not so much. Why is that? Here’s what I’ve learned….
Gratitude is a decision. That decision becomes readiness. And when readiness is put into practice…it grows into a habit. Habits become a part of who you are. Over and over, the Bible instructs us to live a life of thankfulness to God. In the Old Testament alone, the concept of gratitude comes up 102 times. 72 of those use the Hebrew word, “ydh.” It’s defined as “acknowledging what is right about God in praise and thanksgiving.” (Jeffrey Kranz, Overviewbible.com) In the Bible, being thankful is not about being polite; It’s how we recognize the goodness of God and then express it back to him in praise and worship. Psalms 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him,and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. “ Gratitude starts by acknowledging the gifts, then praising the Giver. Jenn Wilkins, Christian author and teacher, says, “You are the belated announcement of what you have been thinking about for the last thirty days.”
In other words: We become what we behold.
Observing and practicing gratitude transforms us. We become a person who can see goodness, do goodness, praise Goodness and then speak it to others. Proverbs 12:14 says, “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him. “ I’ve been watching the people who purposefully practice gratitude. There are ways to grow this attitude (hey, that rhymes!) Try some of these:
Find a “Grati-tutor.” Hang out with someone who lives gratitude and learn from them.
Make a “Thank God” jar. Add paper and pencil. Keep it close. Fill it with gifts from the Giver.
Write Appreciation Notes to people you are thankful for. Delivered or not, gratitude grows.
Show Yourself Some Gratitude. Change mean thoughts to grateful ones. Psalms 139 says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Passing a mirror? Appreciate one thing about yourself.
Find Beauty in Your Day: A blossom, a child or the falling rain. Stop for 10 seconds to soak it in and thank God for putting it in your path.
Gratitude Has Gains. I have gained many gifts from choosing gratitude. I want to share this very personal one with you, my friends… My mom suffered through Alzheimer’s for ten years before it took her life. Many afternoons, I would sit with her to tell her stories, lean against her shoulder and sing her favorite hymns, often times singing through tears. I knew the time we had wouldn’t last. I was losing my mom a little bit more each day. It was then I realized I could choose to be grateful. I made a decision. By choosing gratitude, I could soothe some of my own sadness by looking for the hidden good. And by doing that, these moments could stay alive in my heart. I would say to myself, “At least I have this moment. And in this moment, I can lean my arm against hers and I can feel her skin against mine. Someday I won’t have that. So, today, I choose to thank God for what He has graciously given me: This touch, this song, this moment, and this memory.” Seventeen years later, I am still so very grateful. And I still remember. I urge you, dear friend, to choose gratitude. Make it a life habit. Start by thanking God for His goodness. Find a Grati-tutor, fill your “Thank God” jar, smell a flower. Then, see the world in a whole new way. May you joyfully walk hand-in-hand with God as He leads you towards a life of gratitude! Shalom,