How Often Are We Grateful?
We are all busy. We are all doing so many different things. How often do we truly take time to reflect, be grateful, and love outside of the days that are created exclusively for that purpose?
In the United States, Thanksgiving is a huge thing for so many people. It is a time of fellowship, a time of gratitude, a time of reflection, and a time for lots of love. It’s a time for generosity.
What I have been reflecting on lately is the way that I am living my life and am leading my life. I realized I have a clear picture of what I want to accomplish, I have a clear vision of where God wants me 10 years from now. The part I don’t see as clearly is how to get there.
I have accepted that. I am the type of person who loves planning everything. In terms of conscientiousness and organization and order, I am skewed way way way to that side. With that in mind, it is often difficult to have “gray areas” in my life, though I now understand why that is okay. That’s actually a good analogy to Thanksgiving time.
We know what the outcome of Thanksgiving will be. The outcome is people gathered around each other, displaying love, gratitude, and hopefully happiness. We know where we start. We start hungry, we often start with a big turkey and lots of food to cook. As the cooking process is underway we may be kind of lost. There are often tons of different things taking form and people may start arriving at the house. This is definitely a gray area. It is hard and nearly impossible to plan exactly how everything will be cooked and at what time everything will finish before we actually begin and attack problems as they arise.
However, we do know what the outcome will be. Again, that’s going to be a great feast with people that we love and there will be tons of gratitude and generosity.
Back to life. Many of us may know what we desire, we may know where God is leading us, but we might not see the ingredients or the steps necessary to achieve that desired outcome.
God knows where I am headed, just like He knows where everyone is headed. He knows what I’m doing and knows why I am doing what I am because he sees my intentions. It all comes down to the intentions in my eyes. As much as I love just where I am now, as much as I love being grateful for this moment, it is gratitude with expectancy. Grateful for what I have now and expecting more. As it says in the Bible, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” Luke 16:10. That is the bottom line, I know that if I show God that He can trust me with what He has given, I will be blessed with more, and for me, that means that there is more that I can use to honor Him and bless others also.
What I realized is that I may not be as grateful for the process as I should be. There are so many things happening all the time and many things that I may not continue into the future. I love the process, I love where I am right now and am excited about where I am going to go and what I am going to accomplish with God. And, even though I don’t see clearly within this moment how everything will work together for the future, that’s okay.
It comes back to this, reflecting, being grateful, and loving. I realized that I was not doing those things every day. But, I want to be. I want to be grateful for everything every day. I want to love every day. I want to be aware of every day what helped me get closer to the goals and desires that I have and be aware also of what is not helping. So, what I do now are a few things.
I begin every morning by creating a gratitude list, listing the first 5–15 things that I come to my mind. I journal and reflect on the previous day, how was my time management, did I have fun, was I energized, did I accomplish what I wanted to? How does what I did the previous day contribute to my goals?
Following those two things, I pray and journal that as well. I now like to keep in mind the conversations I have with God each day. There are things that I hear and notice and realize that I would not always remember without doing so. This also helps me see visually, my progress in not only my life but my faith walk. Following that, I write in my goals journal and list the top 5 long-term goals. These are a variety of things but range in time from one year to 5 years.
Doing these things each and every morning has helped me maintain gratitude and perspective and generosity and self-awareness. There are other daily disciplines and habits that I do as well. But, those are the most important to me to maintain these things. The holidays are a great reminder but, in my opinion, gratitude, love, fellowship, and reflection are all things that need to happen daily, in a very intentional way.
Has anyone else tried these things? What has worked or has not worked for you? Anything else that I should go into more detail about?