As we enter the holiday seasons and the final portions of this year, most of us get pretty busy. Still, it’s essential to ask questions that matter most during these months of celebration. One question in particular often associated with Thanksgiving, affects life every day. What exactly is gratitude? Have you regularly asked yourself that question? I’ll throw in another question – “part B” to the first question. Are you “doing gratitude” each day?
What Exactly Is Gratitude?
Over the decades, I’ve asked myself – “what is gratitude?” Most often, exploring gratitude hasn’t even been at Thanksgiving for me. It’s been a lot more “every day” than that. After all, doing gratitude is a daily thing. And I’ve noticed three things about gratitude in recent years that I missed in younger years.
- Gratitude is like Runway Edge Lights (REL) at the airport. Those lights outline the edges of runways during periods of darkness or restricted visibility conditions. Did you know gratitude outlines the edges your life path and keeps you safely on the runway?
- Just like an airborne airplane, gratitude provides lift to your heart. It gives you perspective in problem-solving daily challenges. Did you know gratitude helps identify the real issues, best possible solutions, and best practices for your heart as you navigate each day?
- And gratitude is a flight plan that provides two critical elements needed for doing gratitude:
- Worship – A deep reverence for God becomes your best platform for doing gratitude. It opens your soul to the incredible privilege of friendship with God.
- Sincerity – A sincere heart can become a rich heart, but it must also be a practical heart. God loves when His children seek Him with all their heart.
There is SO much good connected to being thankful. So far – in summary, gratitude keeps you on the path, lifts your heart, and gives you a plan by connecting you sincerely and securely to God.
Gratitude is important to your personal character development. It also builds integrity and healthy life patterns. Thankfulness actually connects your soul to the world around you, to other people, nature, the arts and culture, and more. It also grows character you can hang your life on.
We already mentioned doing gratitude connects you securely to God who created you and loves you deeply. When you sincerely trust God, you find yourself thankful for His abiding love, His interventions, and His attention to details of your life. You see things you didn’t see before. And you notice stability forming in your relationship with God.
So, we can safely announce – doing gratitude grows character needed for an Alive and Active Life.
Doing Gratitude Is Learned
Apparently, gratitude is one of the basic character qualities God wants for His children. He helps you become practiced in deeper thankfulness.
Let’s look at what the dictionary says about gratitude. The definition is: “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.” Synonyms for gratitude are: “thank, thankfulness, appreciation, gratefulness.” This definition “sticks” even in adverse situations!
So, that’s where we start. Choosing to be thankful. It’s a decision, not a feeling. As life progresses, a thankful heart cultivates a richer journey. Plus, the more you do something, the better you get at it. You become proficient. In fact, you find gratitude connects you to your own life – the person God created you to be.
What would it look like to get good at doing gratitude? What would change if you lived with a thankful heart even in difficult times?
My Definition Has Changed
I find myself defining gratitude a bit differently as years go by. In past seasons of life, I had always defined it as being thankful. There was a popular phrase – “have an attitude of gratitude.”
In recent years as I’ve continued learning and growing, I’ve discovered fresh, new depths to doing gratitude. These have enriched my life and increased my desire to be thankful. When I wake, the new day is a backdrop to explore choices of thankfulness to live an Alive and Active Life. I want to share specific points I figured out. But first, some ideas about a tracking list and a good cleaning.
A simple list of blessings reminds you there is so much to be thankful for. Right now, put pen to paper or dictate into your device the blessings present in your life. Include everything you can think of . . . and see how long your list gets.
This list actually gives you a document you can use when your heart is hurting, when you have a bad attitude, when you feel lost and confused, and when you need healing, compassion, strength, and grace. Doing gratitude during difficult scenarios is hard. It involves resolve and discipline.
But as you practice being thankful during hard times, God does something deep inside you. He provides a protective force field around your soul. Then He gently exposes your spirit – where you are broken, hurting, wounded, needy. As you trust His promises, as you obey in all scenarios, and as you keep doing gratitude, He heals, strengthens, and polishes your spirit. This polishing brings a credibility and brilliance to your life story.
Polishing Gems; Polishing Your Life
When you polish a precious gem in hard to reach places (ring, necklace, tie clip, bracelet, cuff links, etc.), grime must be cleaned from around cuts and mountings – and even from the back side of the mounting. After the polishing, the jewel “pops” and sparkles more. After that deep cleaning, the gem reflects light more brilliantly.
When you let God polish your heart in hard to reach places – yes, even the back side – God can remove the dingy film from your soul as you live in a sinful world. He can fix the broken, ease the hurting, and heal the wounds. But couch your request with gratitude.
Gen. 50:20 says, “You intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Terrible things intended for evil can showcase God’s grace as you trust Him to intervene in your problems and as you let Him polish your life.
What If You Can’t Find Gratitude
If you can’t find your gratitude, simply come to God and ask Him to help. Don’t be afraid. God loves you deeply! Resolve to believe His Word. Obey in all things. Rejoice even in hardships. Start doing gratitude. This rolls out a new cycle of an Alive and Active Life. Intervention and polishing follow.
God knows what’s inside you – your past, your current difficulties and losses. But He also knows your future. Jesus promises to never leave or forsake you. He promises healing, strength, wisdom, deliverance. That’s His part.
What’s your part? “Do not be afraid. Do not be terrified.” (Deut. 31:6) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your [issues] remember God who can do something about them . . . and He will direct your path.” (my interpretation of Prov. 3:5-6)
As you trust and obey, God is honored. As you practice His presence, He knits Himself into you so you cannot unravel the two of you. Sincere thankfulness gives you a secure, rich, and practical heart.
As you train to be more appreciative, God’s character literally forms in you. A joy sparkle shows up in your heart – the glow of His polishing.
Application Questions and Points
A couple of questions – then ten points to help.
- Why not go into these holiday months doing gratitude?
- Why not make gratitude be an every day thing going forward?
- Are you letting gratitude keep you on God’s path, lift your heart, and give a daily plan to live an Alive and Active Life?
Ten Points to Help
- Thankfulness is enhanced under pressure of suffering and trials. Are you responding to stress with gratitude?
- Gratitude sparkles with a good cleaning, especially in hard-to-reach areas. Do you submit to a good daily cleaning?
- It’s a process of discovery to be the rich person God designed. Are you daily discovering who you are in Christ?
- God loves you and wants to train you in His character. How badly do you want to be like Jesus?
- A thankful heart takes you into meaningful worship. What is your worship life like?
- Consent brings reward; refusal brings serious consequences. Do you spend more time consenting or refusing?
- “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13) What/Who are you seeking?
- God’s Word is filled with doing gratitude training. Are you signed up for the training?
- Attitude affects doing gratitude. What kinds of attitudes do you have each day?
- Gratitude transforms you to be like Jesus. Want to be transformed? You can be!
Start doing gratitude sincerely from your heart.
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