Being Thankful Isn’t Just for Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year…the time when a lot of people focus on being thankful.  When I was growing up, we’d sit around the table on Thanksgiving and share what we were thankful for – often times it was family, friends, a safe house, and food on the table.  These days, this practice has evolved to sharing on social media.  How many of you are taking the challenge where you identify things you’re thankful for each day and post them on your Facebook wall?  I think it’s a great idea, and here’s why:

thankful

I think it’s super important to experience the happiness that comes from being thankful for what we have, where we are in life, and sometimes being thankful despite our circumstances.  I’ve definitely experienced this last one recently. For the past 4 weeks I was non-weight bearing on crutches.  This may not seem like a big deal to you, but try going a month without being able to walk, carry anything, or complete your daily duties (for me it’s cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, taking care of my kids, and motivating people to exercise).  My thoughts could’ve easily gone downhill.  And I’ll be honest, there was one day where I spent more time with wet eyes than dry.  But, I knew there was a way out for me, and it entailed two things: praying without ceasing and being thankful.  One of my all-time favorite Bible verses is 1 Thessalonians 16-18: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This verse came to my mind the day I was so distraught, so I prayed for a long time…I mean a long time.  I asked God to renew my attitude and fill me with strength to get through it.  And then I did something visual: I wrote a list of all the things I was thankful for.  And that list turned into one long list that filled up an entire notebook page.  I focused on each of my children and what I loved about them, then moved on to my husband, my parents, my sister, and then things I had, both possessions and non-material things like specific friends, situations, or new opportunities that came into my life. Why is that important?  Because it refocused my attention on the good things in my life instead of my current situation.  It helped me realize how blessed I was, and even though I was struggling with my physical limitations, I didn’t have to struggle with my emotional well-being.

“When your mind is occupied with thanking Me, you have no time for worrying or complaining.  If you practice thankfulness consistently, negative thought patterns will gradually grow weaker and weaker.”      (From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

That’s what I want.  For any negativity in my life to grow weaker and weaker.  Are you in a cycle of negative thought patterns? Want to free yourself from this cycle?  Perhaps try keeping a gratitude journal.  It can be as involved or minimal as you want it to be.  I even saw this app that could help.  http://www.myfoxal.com/story/27481671/whats-appening-count-your-blessings-with-gratitude-journal-365

The point is, being thankful is not just for Thanksgiving.  For me it’s a year-long, life-long practice that will help keep me grounded when life seems to be going exactly as planned, and lift me up when life throws curve balls at me. Life is unpredictable, but how I respond to it doesn’t have to be.  In either situation, I know I can pull out my journal, pray, and then hang on for the ride.

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