Every Thanksgiving I find myself pondering gratitude. It’s easy to be thankful on one holiday, but weaving thankfulness into every corner of my life takes a little more effort. I’m trying to make sure celebration and gratitude are regular rhythms of my day to day life, but to be honest, it’s challenging at best. Recognizing 3 key myths that hinder my progress is half the battle to embracing a lifestyle of gratitude.
3 Myths about Gratitude
1. Joy precedes gratitude – It’s easy to think that gratitude is a byproduct of joy, something we do when we experience provision, answered prayer or a great victory. But in truth it’s the exact opposite. A lifestyle of gratitude is the labor that gives birth to joy. Labor is excruciating, long-suffering and intense work, and positioning our hearts towards thankfulness is much the same. If gratitude is dependent on our feelings or life circumstances we’ll never own our own thanksgiving – it will always belong to someone or something else. Our bank account, our spouse, our kids or some other fluid aspect of our lives. We can’t wait until we feel like giving thanks, we have to orient our hearts to live that way now.
2. It’s easier for some people – This is rarely a conversation I have out loud. The my-life-is-harder-pity-party happens in the darkest parts of my soul and it’s fueled by comparison and envy. Of course they’re so thankful, life is so easy for them - or some other version of that lie robs me of the opportunity to be a thankful person. A genuine lifestyle of gratitude is nurtured, stoked and rigorously practiced day after day. It’s not something we just fall into. We can all experience moments of appreciation, but grooming a habit of gratitude is travail for all of us.
3. It’s a fluffy and fruitless endeavor – There are so many times I find myself secretly wondering if thanksgiving is changing anything in my life or my circumstances. It’s easy to reduce it to a self-help technique, but if we look closely at scripture we can find that thanksgiving and gratitude are weapons we’re given to wield. In 2 Chronicles 20 the worshippers (those who give thanks and express gratitude to God) lead God’s people to war. They win the fight and beat the enemy because they advance with gratitude. I wonder how many of my own battles could be fought and won on the battleground of gratefulness, and how many unanswered prayers lay unclaimed because of a lack of faith-filled appreciation. Without a doubt, gratitude moves the heart of God and releases his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Let’s be thankful people, innately connected to all that we have received and responding with thanks and worship.