I sat in the doctor’s office waiting room and grabbed a magazine to kill some time. It was my first pregnancy and the visit was routine and ordinary. I knew the drill. I would be here for a while; might as well read a magazine.
As I flipped through the pages, an article by a mother caught my attention. As a newbie to the parenting world, I was like a sponge; reading and willing to soak up all the advise I could get.
The topic of the article: manners.
Two sentences into the article and my eyebrows were already raised and my jaw began to drop with each word. This seasoned mother of three suggested … no, encouraged all moms to steer away from teaching their children manners.
“What’s the point in teaching them to say, ‘I’m sorry’, or ‘Thank you’? They don’t understand what any of that means until they’re older. It’s a waste of time when they’re young.”
What kind of mother is she?
The article drew me out of the doctor’s office and into the conversation posed by the article. I was jolted from my confusion when I heard the nurse call my name. However, the author of the article already left an impression on me.
What kind of people are we becoming if we lose the basic awareness and value in interacting with the rest of the world by showing manners?
What is Gratitude?
I think people have the idea of gratitude all wrong. I only say this because I used to. We think that just because we say thank you when someone passes us the green beans at dinner then we’re doing this gratitude thing the right way.
But God forbid someone get the last slice of chocolate cake. That’s a different story. Being thankful is easy when I get what I want. It’s an easy response when my desire for more is satisfied.
But that’s not gratitude at all.
Psychology Today will tell you gratitude is an emotion. It comes and goes as quickly as any other feeling that arises. I completely disagree. If gratitude is an emotion then it’s fleeting. That means gratitude is dependent on circumstance.
The Bible Commands We Be Thankful
Do you know why the Bible tells us to be thankful? Because it’s not natural. It’s not in our nature to have a mind of gratitude. We are people who default to the negative. We do that because of the sinful nature.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks.” In other translations it says, “In all circumstances, give thanks.”
I’m going to be super honest and tell you how difficult that is to do. We can read it and nod our heads in agreement, but let’s be real … do we do it?
I don’t. This is something that requires more than being moved by emotion to accomplish. It takes effort.
So, in rebuttal to Psychology Today’s opinion on gratitude being an emotion, I say gratitude is a state of mind. It’s something that must be cultivated.
Why does God care so much that we show gratitude? What’s the purpose in setting our minds on being thankful people? It’s simple: it’s for your good. People who are grateful in mind and action are statistically proven to have a better quality of life.
Gratitude strengthens our perspective and gives us a positive outlook. It forces us to focus on our gain instead of our lack. It causes us to compare ourselves with those who have less than us than compare ourselves to those who have more and harbor resentment.
How Do I Accomplish Gratitude?
One of my pet peeves is when someone teaches me something but they don’t tell me how to apply it to my life. I won’t do that to you. I whole-heartedly believe that many people know what to do, they just don’t know how to do it.
So, this week I am offering a FREE pdf called 5 W’s To A Grateful Heart. Each day, I give you a new passage of scripture where we go through the who, what, when, where, and why of each passage. I also ask real questions that go beyond what you’re thankful for and dig deeper into our attitude and outlook.
But, wait! There’s more!
I am going LIVE each day in my Facebook group with short devotionals on the topic of gratitude. The devotionals will be related to the pdf, but will go more in depth about what gratitude is and how to accomplish it.
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, you can do those thirty day challenges and talk all month long about what you’re thankful for. You’ll have accomplished choosing thirty things you mulled over in your life to tell the world about.
And, you know what? Do it!!
Do that challenge next month. BUT … saying thank you for what you have is kind of like saying you’re sorry when you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar. I’m not saying that responding with a, “Thank you” isn’t genuine. Sometimes it is. But is it really showing a heart of gratitude? Not always.
Will You Take the Challenge With Me?
If you only walk away with an awareness of what gratitude really is after this challenge, that’s enough. But, I hope that God works on you and in you to change your perspective and live a life that shows gratitude each and every day … no matter the circumstance.
The Cost of Gratitude
Psalm 50:23 says, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God.”
Do you know that a sacrifice costs something? It’s not always done when something is given. Sometimes thanksgiving is offered at a cost. It’s not a response because of the overflow of the extra or material things we get from God.
This 5 day challenge will be just that … a challenge. And maybe in some ways it will be a sacrifice. It will cost you some time, and some honest reflection. But to God it will be a sweet smelling aroma and He will help change our attitude and our perspective and bless us in ways that are more valuable than anything we could ask for.
I’ll post the links to the group and the 5 W’s to a Grateful Heart challenge again. Just click the links and I’ll see you there! I can’t want to see all that God is going to do in us and through us as we do this challenge together!