By Heather Hart
When November rolled around this year, I wanted to be intentional about cultivating an attitude of gratitude. I watched all my friends start posting their thankful lists on Facebook, and I was tempted to join in. Another blogger shared about how she wrote down five things she was thankful for each night before bed, and that sounded good too. I remembered the thankfulness jar a friend made a few years back, and thought about picking up a devotional on gratitude, but I just wasn’t sure what to do.
Before I knew what happened, November first had come and gone and I still couldn’t figure out how to be more thankful.
I started to get a little bit panicked. I was having flashbacks to last year when I realized it was Christmas Eve and I wasn’t even ready for Thanksgiving yet. Here it was November 2nd and I wasn’t ready for yesterday.
Have you ever been there?
The holiday season just seem to come and go too quickly when you’re a grownup.
As my children count down the days with enthusiasm, I nervously recount all the stuff that still needs to be done.
What’ I’ve come to realize this year, is that I get so busy trying to do stuff, that I forget to enjoy stuff.
I think we all do that to some degree. We get so busy trying to slow down the holiday season, that it’s over before we are ready for it to begin. We think if we could just hold Christmas at bay while we take care of Thanksgiving, life would be simpler. That we could get a handle on it.
We fight for control of the uncontrollable.
Our kids, on the other hand, get equally excited about both holidays simultaneously. Yes, they are looking forward to seeing their uncles on Thanksgiving and eating pumpkin pie, but Christmas is coming! And they. Can’t. Wait.
Kids don’t care if we have Christmas trees up at Thanksgiving, in fact they would probably enjoy it. The excitement bubbles out of them without restraint, restriction, or reservation. And they certainly don’t concern themselves with cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
Partly because they don’t have to.
What I’ve discovered is that most of us have gratitude ingrained in us. It was instilled in us by our parents when we were little, or the Holy Spirit brought it out when He made us His own. You can see it on the innocent, awe-filled faces of small children. You can feel it in the warmth of a heart-felt hug. And that’s where I landed on gratitude this year.
I discovered that when I slow down to really be in the moment, I don’t have to cultivate an attitude of gratitude because it’s already there. I’ve found that I’m not really ungrateful at all, but in all of my busyness my attitude of gratitude gets smothered because I forget to give it room to breathe.
I don’t know about you, but for me I am always more thankful when I slow down to enjoy the moment. If I’m just busy trying to do what’s next, I don’t always remember to give thanks. But when I take a minute to breathe deep and look around, I almost always end up giving thanks for all God has given me.
When I stop, take a deep breath and look around, an attitude of gratitude overflows from my soul. Even if I’m elbow deep in dishwater I find myself saying, “Thank You, Lord, for this. Thank You for this moment. For this family. For this life.” I find when I stop even for a moment, I am so thankful for all God has given me.
For me, gratitude isn’t about lists, it’s about moments.
Moments in life where I can just stop and praise God for His goodness, faithfulness, and overflowing love for me, regardless of what’s going on around me.
Lists and actions have their place, but I have found that true gratitude starts in the heart.
So today, I encourage you to stop and give thanks in the moment.
Just take a deep breath and look around, and know that God is good.
I have a hunch that if you do, you will discover that gratitude is already there. It’s just waiting for the opportunity to overwhelm and overflow.
“You received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to live as Christ’s people. Sink your roots in him and build on him.
Be strengthened by the faith that you were taught, and overflow with thanksgiving.”
~ Colossians 2:6-7 (GW)
If you missed Part 1 of A Thankful Heart: When thankfulness is the last thing on your mind, don’t worry click here!
Jesus, books, flowers, flipflops, chocolate, and coca cola – those are a few of Heather’s favorite things. She doesn’t have it all together, but she’s okay with that because she knows Christ has her covered when she fails. Her hope that is while she is struggling through this thing called life, she is pointing others towards Jesus along the way. Heather is the director of FindYourTrueBeauty.com, a ministry for today’s teen girls, and recently founded a new online ministry for women called Candidly Christian where real women, with real faith, share about real life.
In addition to all of that, Heather Hart is happily married to the man of her dreams, the mother of four, and an internationally best-selling and award-winning author with over a dozen books in print. Her newest book, Mirror Mirror… Am I Beautiful? is releasing next month, and will be available free on her website TrueBeautyBook.com.Teens, parents, and youth workers can also sign up to get her Teen Devotionals… for Girls! series free via email daily or weekly at FindYourTrueBeauty.com/devos.