gratitude

I Stopped Trying To Be Grateful

Well. It’s November.

And the expectation of a timely post about gratitude is weighing heavy on my mind. And my heart. From somewhere I heard it whispered it isn’t necessary. Yes. I could simply give you a short list of my favorite books on the subject. It would save me time. And embarrassment. Honestly, you’d be better for it.

But, since I talk about my journey here, inspiring words from another’s pen won’t suffice.

Gratitude has always been hard for me.

There. I said it.

I used to think it was hard for me because I struggled with greed and jealousy. Greed told me I deserved everything that landed in my hands. Jealousy said I deserved everything that landed in yours. Both were pretty clever, convincing me that I was owed. I owed myself. And God owed me, too. And certainly, both of those beasts hindered my ability to be grateful.

But that is not all. Oh, no. That is not all.

DR. SUESS, THE CAT IN THE HAT, p. 16

The ugliest obstacle to my gratitude was —is — my inclination toward perfectionism. Perfectionism whispers to me: almost, but not quite. So close.

I struggled with being grateful because I saw myself as not quite enough. My circumstances were not optimal. My stuff could be so much better. My people? Close. (Don’t you wish you were my people?)

So, I finally just stopped trying to be grateful!

I stopped trying. Because trying to overcome the monsters of greed and jealousy and perfectionism was a lost cause. My efforts were in vain. Trying was unproductive. Trying is attempting, hoping to achieve and reap a benefit. Without the hard work. Or the heart work.

What I really needed was training. Training is committing to practice the skill you want to achieve.

Yes. Gratitude is more than a feeling. More than an attitude. More than a cute sweatshirt worn in November.

It is a muscle. A muscle developed over time by working it out. And the practice field of gratitude is somewhere between our minds and our hearts.

Gratitude begins in our mind and finds its way into our cobwebbed heart. But between those two places…it is practiced. Intentionally. We practice when it’s raining and when the skies are blue. We practice when we’re tired. We practice when we’re not feeling it. We practice when we fail. We practice.

In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul ends his letter with this…

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18

Rejoice always. Pray always. Give thanks. Always.

In all seasons. In all things. Not FOR all things, but IN all things.

In giving thanks I am practicing gratitude. As I give thanks IN ALL things, I lay all imperfect things at the feet of the One who loves me best. I cast all of my not enough upon Him and trust that God’s best is always enough. One of my favorite authors on the subject of giving thanks said this:

Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of the multiplying happens when I give thanks —and He miraculously makes it more than enough.

ANN VOSKAMP, One Thousand Gifts, Zondervan, p. 72.

He is enough. And He makes my not enough, more than enough. But He can only multiply what I am willing to surrender to Him.

Over the last four years, I have spent a lot of time in the classroom of surrender. Learning the art of surrender. Practicing surrender. I have found it to be the beginning of every good thing.

You may have heard it said that practice makes perfect. Well, I would add that perfect practice makes perfect. But I am no longer aiming for perfection.

Gratitude is my end. And my means. So, I’ll practice. Practice. Practice.

How about you? Do you struggle with gratitude? Or perfectionism? Greed? Jealousy?

Or maybe your struggle lies in sneakier things. Like hard work and well-deserved. Gratitude gets too easily lost in such places.

Want to join me at practice?

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