The Attitude of Gratitude
The Attitude of Gratitude
As we flip our calendar over to November, we are carried into the lovely season of cozy sweaters, stuffed turkeys, tall boots, and Thanksgiving!
The frosty mornings and crisp Fall evenings usher in a reflective appreciation for all of the good things that we possess in life. Store shelves are lined with home decor proclaiming “Thankful”, “Grateful”, “Blessed”, and social media launches 30 Days of Gratitude challenges.
It is pretty easy to remember to be thankful in November, isn’t it?
But what about the other eleven months of the year? How can we plant seeds of gratitude and cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving throughout each and every day, all year long?
We are encouraged from the scriptures to give thanks in everything. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us, “In everything, give thanks - for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Even Covid-19? Give thanks for illness and loss and difficult circumstances? Give thanks for financial ruin and political disagreements and wars between nations? Give thanks for cancer? For Alzheimer’s? For strained relationships and for broken hearts?
Oh, no, friends, that’s not what the verse tells us. Look at that one little, tiny, first word.
IN everything, give thanks. God does not ask the impossible of us. He is not telling us to be thankful FOR everything. His words are pointing us in the direction of being thankful IN the midst of it all. While we are not thankful for cancer, we can be thankful for the help from family and friends, for meals delivered, errands run by friends, and for the presence of the God of all comfort. We can be thankful for prayer, and for medicine, and for the colorful sunrise of a new day. We can appreciate the skilled hands of a surgeon, and the good care of a kind nurse.
Of course, we are not thankful FOR Covid-19, but we can cultivate a grateful heart in our garden of gratitude by being thankful IN the Covid crisis. We can be thankful for extra time at home to get long-procrastinated things done. We can be thankful for more time with our children and grandchildren. We can appreciate the work of school teachers. We can savor the joy of breathing fresh air when we arrive home after work and can remove our mask, and inhale uninhibited oxygen. We can be thankful for green lights when running late, for comfortable shoes, and for warm soup on a cold evening. We can be grateful for hot water and electricity, and indoor plumbing. We can take a thoughtful moment to appreciate the person who took the time to teach us how to read. We can be thankful for the friendly wave from a neighbor, and for Zoom meetings and FaceTime. Can you imagine enduring this time of isolation and separation without technology to aid us in communication? How wonderful it is to see the face, the smile, and hear the voice of a beloved grandchild, or an elderly parent in a nursing home! Yes, it is certainly discouraging to not be able to visit them in person, but thankfully we have some means of connecting with friends and loved ones via the internet.
There is ALWAYS something that can evoke gratitude in any situation, but you might have to look for it. You may have to make a conscious effort to ponder and search out the goodness that deserves thanks each day, but be assured, it is there. It is always there. God would not have told us to be thankful IN everything if there was no reason for thanksgiving. If nothing else, we can be thankful for His presence in the midst of it all. That fact alone is a reason to give thanks in everything! His presence with us means that we are not alone in difficult times. The Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 46 that God is “a very present help in trouble.” He is with you. You are not walking alone in this journey of life!
Gratitude turns what we have into enough. The spirit of discontentment creeps in when we are continually chasing “more.” Feeling discouraged? Empty? Unsettled? Restless? Take a moment to look around you right now. Yes, right where you are at this moment. Are you sitting in a comfy chair? Say to yourself, “I am so thankful for this comfy chair!”
Are you looking at a colorful screen on a phone in your hand or on a computer at your desk? Redirect your thoughts to say, “I am so grateful for the technology that enables me to connect with family and friends at a moment’s notice from this little device. What a wonderful invention!”
That may seem like a simple, and perhaps, silly exercise in gratitude, but didn’t your heart feel just a bit lighter after thinking those thoughts? Your car might be in the repair shop, and you may be laid off from work, but in the middle of those difficult circumstances, you have a comfy chair, a smartphone, and a God who is with you always. If you intentionally focus on finding something for which to be thankful IN everything, you will find it.
We are continually bombarded by advertising that makes us believe that what we have or what we are is not enough. A garden of gratitude is cultivated by planting seeds of thankfulness throughout each day. Gratitude is good for you! Plant rows of appreciation for what you have, and you will harvest a fruitful yield of peace and contentment.
In December, give thanks for the Savior who came to earth as a gift from God in a humble stable. It was enough. There was no fancy birthing center, no festive shower of baby gifts, no coordinating baby’s room decor - and yet, it was enough to bring hope to a hopeless world.
In January, give thanks for fresh starts and new beginnings! Be grateful for the beauty in a blanket of freshly fallen snow. Appreciate the return to a normal schedule and routine after the busyness of the holiday season. Listen to the quietness of the snowflakes falling in the moonlight. It is enough. We can give thanks in everything - even in January!
In February, we can be thankful for love! In March, let’s be thankful for the hope of Springtime.
In April, thank you, Lord, for sunshine and rain, and for tiny bursts of green new life popping through the tired, winter soil. In May, we can be thankful for mothers and grandmothers, and for the people in our lives who fill a motherly role for us. We can look at the beauty of cherry blossoms and tulips, and be grateful that we can see and smell the flowers! We can appreciate graduations, and weddings, and the gift of time as it carries us through the many seasons of life.
In June, we can be thankful for fathers, and family, and the end of the school year! In July, let’s be grateful for America, for front porches, hot summer nights and cool iced tea, air conditioning, and the beach.
In August, thank God for cardinals, yellow finches, and hummingbirds! Appreciate the hard-working honey bees that fly from flower to flower, and give us honey and a colorful garden feast for our eyes. In September, we can express gratitude to school teachers, to our military, and to those around us who make great sacrifices with their lives for the betterment and safety of others. Heroes. They are all around us. Think about them, notice them, and be grateful. In October, be thankful for the changing leaves, and for the way they remind us how lovely it is to let things go. Be grateful for a smile from a stranger, or for a parking space near the door on a rainy day.
And then, before you know it, it will be November again! By that time, you will not need a social media challenge to “Be Grateful.” You will have carefully and thoughtfully planted a lush Garden of Gratitude, from which you may harvest the fruit of joy, contentment, and appreciation for the “little things.” You will possess a storehouse filled to the brim with the thanks that you have given IN everything throughout the whole year!
Practicing gratitude takes, well...Practice! It is a habit that can be nurtured and developed, but you will have to put a bit of effort into it. Perhaps, each night when you lay your head upon your pillow, take a moment to consciously name something, just one thing, for which you are grateful. It might be your pillow, or a quiet home, coffee, or the love of a pet. The circumstances of the day may have been difficult, or you may be in the midst of a chronically painful life situation - but rest assured, my friend - there will always be something worthy of gratitude in each day. Find it, and be thankful.
Here at Evilena’s, our hearts are grateful for YOU! We appreciate our customers, our consignors, our vendors, and the many people who make up our Evilena’s family. Without you, we would not be able to sustain our presence here in our community. We would not be able to support our mission of helping others, and giving to those in need. This year has been filled with ups and downs, and various adjustments in how we do business “à la Covid”, but our gratitude for you has been a consistent focus throughout each day. We have prayed for you, and for the well-being of you and your family, and we have lifted your prayer requests before our gracious Heavenly Father. We believe in the power of prayer!
Thank you for all of the “follows” on social media, for watching our 1:30 pm videos each day, for consigning with us, and for shopping with us in the store and online!
We are thankful for you! God bless you and your family as you celebrate the beautiful season of Thanksgiving!