'Tis the Season! Of glad tidings and joy, of shopping and sipping, of gathering and gifts... of stress and hardships too. Life does not take a break for the holidays and many are still struggling as the Christmas tunes blare over the mall speakers.
One of the best things I ever read was a teeny tiny little book by Merlin Carothers, entitled Power in Praise, that God lead me to years ago and it changed my thinking.
Simply stated, the book showed me that the more gratitude I have in any given situation, the better that situation will be and the more joy I will have in my life.
It’s EASY to be grateful and thankful when life is good, when your football team is winning and you’ve lost that 10 extra pounds and your husband or boyfriend adores you and your kids are getting good grades in school… It is not so easy when you have been fired, when you lose your house to foreclosure, or other hardships and trials affect your life.
Once I started working in West Africa, I was profoundly impacted with the reality of all that I have to be grateful for! The freedom and the privilege to attend to school, (something I’d never considered a privilege,) is denied to millions of young girls in Africa, in part due to economics and in part due to discrimination against females.
The luxury of sitting on a couch, sleeping on a bed, the ease of collecting fresh water; turning on a faucet in a kitchen or bathroom…all things I’d never considered to be privileges suddenly were illuminated.
So many things I had taken for granted every day of my life, things like the roads on which we drive, the busses that are available to commuters, the police that keep our streets safe…all these things are nonexistent in many parts of Africa.
Today I am keenly aware of my blessings and I try to say a prayer of gratitude each and every day. When I am angry or frustrated, hurt or lonely, the quickest and more wonderful way to change my attitude is to do a mental check list of my many blessings.
I’ve learned that in the midst of my pain and sorrow or frustrations and anger, that God is still good and I still have much to be grateful for. I learned to write down the things I have to be grateful for, because otherwise it's easy to loose site of those things.
This holiday season I will reaffirm my Attitude of Gratitude and ask you to as well. Make a gratitude list each day and try not to write the same thing twice. For instance if on Monday night you write"My children," then you don’t use that again.
The first week is easy, by week two or three you'll be challenged to take note of the little miracles that happen around us each and every day!
If you are struggling, I am sorry. I know this time of year can be especially challenging for some.
Join me in practicing being grateful in the midst of trying situations, thanking God for the trials that make us stronger and the difficulties that make us wiser. It's not always easy, and I often fail, but let's continue to practice and to learn together.
This Christmas and all the year through, I wish the same for you. May you be blessed and your heart filled with gratitude!