Life can be overwhelming. Lately, parts of my life have been this way, trying to juggle work, church, writing, and really being intentional to take steps of action for justice. So many things to do and my emotions can sometimes get all out of whack. The worst is when these things start waking you up in the middle of the night or keeping you from even falling asleep. Tonight, God gave me a little reminder of something to help me reset my focus.
Chris and I were taking an evening walk. This has become a new routine for us and we typically spent some time praying together. As we were talking, Chris suggested that tonight, instead of making our requests, that we should just express our thanks and praise for what God has been doing. That was exactly what I wanted to do as well. As we finished the walk and got back home I found myself thinking about was it looks like to continually walk with thanksgiving on my lips.
One of my favorite chapters (out of all of the books I have read) is found in Ruthless Trust which is written by Brennan Manning. It is titled “The Way of Gratefulness” and at different times in my life God has brought me back to this chapter for reflection. Tonight, I found myself reading back through it. There are so many great quotes throughout this chapter so I will just suggest that you read it for yourself, but the main point is that gratitude is the truest sign of a disciple that trusts God.
He says that “to walk in gratitude is a way of living that is inclusive, attentive, contagious, and theocentric.” It is inclusive because a heart of gratitude gives thanks for the good and the bad, the joy and the sorrow, because life is a gift from God. It is attentive because a heart of gratitude requires a certain awareness of life to recognize the intricate blessings that come our way. It is contagious because a heart of gratitute pushes out self-pity and resentfulness and replaces it with joy. It is theocentric becausea heart of gratitude focuses on the One who gives us all things. G.K. Chesterton wrote “the worst moment for an atheist is when he/she feels grateful and there is no one to thank.”
When I first read this chapter several years ago, I started a routine that I wish I had kept up with. I have never been great at journaling but I decided that each night before I went to sleep I would write five things down that I was thankful for in that day. I didn’t stress about doing anything else in the journal except this list of thanksgiving to God. There was something so transforming about focusing on the things that God provided me with that day instead of stressing about the things left undone or the things that didn’t go my way. For me, anxiety comes easy but peace of mind does not. Gratefulness is the gateway from anxiety to peace.
So tonight, here is my list of five, in no particular order:
- God’s generous encouragement when I had to do something difficult today.
- The smell of the sprinklers on Chris and I’s evening walks.
- An awesome conversation about prayer and Jesus with my mom.
- The ability to purchase the food I needed at the grocery store.
- The gentle reminder to walk in gratefulness.
What would your five be?
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18