I like things in their place. I like order. I like having a plan and executing it. But when things didn’t go according to my plan, I’d find my mind would be filled with negativity and doubt. In some cases it would become my focus for weeks, months, and (gasp!) even YEARS.
I came face to face with this ugly truth one day, when the Holy Spirit showed me how I was allowing the negativity around me to overshadow my faith. Where had my confidence in the Lord gone? Why wasn’t I holding on to promises spoken years ago? Did I truly believe that “What you see is what you get” in this life? I was shaken to the core and began a journey of intentionally looking for things to be thankful for.
Thankful. (adj.) feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.
One of the greatest things I’ve ever done to gain peace in my mind, was to purposefully focus on things I am thankful for. Seeing the good all around me instead of focusing on the things that aren’t going according to plan, brought such a calm to my thinking – a peace in the midst of the chaos.
It could be as simple as expressing gratitude for a coloured marker to doodle with, or as elaborate as being thankful for being taken on a vacation to Hawaii (okay, that is an EASY one to be thankful for!) The point was to find good all around, and to appreciate it and develop genuine thankfulness in my heart.
It took about a year before the project of finding things to be thankful for actually started showing signs of making a genuine impact in my heart. About 6 months after that, I started to notice gratitude well up in my heart at unexpected times and for obscure things. Now, a little over two years into the journey, I make a habit of expressing gratitude to the Lord daily. I nurture the work the Lord has done in my heart by making thankfulness a priority. I focus on it. I teach it to my kids, I demonstrate thankfulness, study thankfulness, read about thankfulness… and I still feel like I’m just baby steps into the journey.
Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV) Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.