Monday, November 11, 2013

A Grateful Heart

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. 
Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. 
Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. Henry Van Dyke

We are not born with the attribute of gratitude. We are selfish and prideful, thinking that we deserve whatever we get.

We have to learn to be grateful. At some point, either our parents or our circumstances taught us to be thankful for what we have. To express that thankfulness to others and to God for what they do.

At some level, if I am really going to have a truly grateful heart, I have to recognize that I don’t deserve what I get or what I have in life, even the things for which I worked.

My gratitude starts with thanking God for His grace. I realize that life itself is a gift that only He can give.

Whatever intelligence, family, circumstances, physical ability, opportunities, or strengths that I have are from Him - a gift from His heart of love for me. I didn’t determine in the womb what my attributes would be. All that is good is from Him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above. (James 1:17a)

To have a grateful heart, I start looking for all of the good that I have in my life. A good way to develop gratitude is to start making a list of what you have that is good.

Sometimes people don’t see anything good in their lives. Start by answering these questions:
  • Do you have a roof over your head? [not the house of your dreams, just a roof] 
  • Do you have clothes to wear? [not all the clothes that you want, but clothes of some kind] 
  • Do you have food to eat? [not all the food you want, and not eating out wherever you want, but food] 
  • Is there anyone that loves you? [not a perfect marriage/parents/children, but someone who loves you]

He who can give thanks for little will always find he has enough.

Having a grateful heart is not about how much we have; it’s about being thankful for whatever we have.

If we aren’t thankful for what we have, it means that we are not satisfied, we aren’t content. We want more; we expect, and even demand, more. 

The American holiday of Thanksgiving was first started by the Pilgrims. “They made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” (H. U. Westermayer)

True thanksgiving is an expression of thankfulness - thankfulness to God and to others, who have contributed to our lives. I verbally or in writing express my gratitude and thanks to someone.

If we don’t thank God for the good in our lives, then we think we deserve more. If we don’t thank our parents for the good that they did for us, then we begrudge all the things we think they did wrong. If we don’t thank others for acts of kindness or thoughtfulness, then we think they owe it to us. 

  • Begin each day with thanking God! 
  • Write down one specific thing each day that you are grateful for - something that happened that day or something specific that you have or experienced.
  • Express appreciation once a day to your spouse and children (or parents) for something he/she did or a positive trait he/she exhibited. [If once a day sounds too hard, start with once a week.]