With so much to be grateful for, how is it that sometimes I/me/we struggle to find things to be grateful for? You know, the type of heartfelt thanks that goes beyond the “thank you for the food I’m eating, the roof over my head, the clothes on my back” type thing.
We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life – school, work, marriage, kids, a messy house, a traveling spouse, a big move, what have you – the challenges of the day seem to always get the better of us. Then, often times life happens. A huge change, something tragic, horrifying, “how could God let this happen” type thing and finding joy and gratitude seems literally impossible – even WRONG sometimes.
In conversation with a friend who was struggling with being grateful for where she is at in life we started talking about the book by Ann Voskamp – One Thousand Gifts. I was like you should totally get it! I’ve heard such great things about it. I then found myself sitting in bed at 12AM, mind spinning, with the husband on yet another multi-week work trip, solo parenting a rambunctious toddler while pregnant, balancing working from home and keeping the home intact, an impending cross country move — I was like, omg. I SHOULD GET IT. Thank you Amazon Prime.
To be honest, her style of writing in this book is a little unconventional for me, a little old school, but she is a brilliant, brilliant writer with a poetic way making your heart stir. I’ve started with her devotional (baby steps) and just committing to reading one section a day.
Through life’s challenges and tragedies, mundane moments, obviously glorious or hidden gems, her book has been one of those things to keep me going in the right direction when life gets challenging.
A Skill To Maintain
One of my words of the New Year happens to be gratitude. Finding ways to constantly be grateful for this life i’ve been given (the good, the bad, and the ugly all included) has been part of my personal mission this year.
I started viewing gratitude as a skill to “practice” – just like you don’t excel at a sport without regular practice, or become proficient at yoga, or even public speaking, without constant practice and training – the same with heartfelt gratitude. The more you look for it, the more you see it. The more you practice it, and cultivate an environment primed for that “heartfelt gratitude”, the easier it becomes. I realized that viewing gratitude as a skill that needs maintenance was the best way for me to approach it.
As a mom, raising my children to be honestly kindhearted, grateful, compassionate and generous is my #1 priority. So not only is maintaining a grateful heart good for ME and my soul, but it gives me the opportunity to teach them by example and sets them up for success as genuinely good, faithful Christians.
Reading books like “One Thousand Gifts”, ending my day with writing in a gratitude journal, stress management, traveling, exercising/practicing yoga, talking to friends, making an effort to slow things down when I need to are all ways that have helped or are helping me maintain a grateful heart. I would LOVE to hear other ways of maintaining a grateful heart!