Sunday, July 15, 2012

True Gratitude

It's been too long.  WAY too long.  I've so VERY much missed having the chance to share my heart in cyber-world.  Excited tonight for the chance to share some thoughts that are floating around in my head!

I hope to be able to sit down often in the next few days because my head and heart are in overflow mode and I know for me blogging allows me an outlet like no other!

I've been completely entranced, enthralled, and overjoyed with life lately.  It has really sunk in deeply of how very blessed by God we are.  (Though it has been FAR from a fairy-tale picnic.  It's been hard at times.  More about that in future posts!)

Some people feel that gratitude is about being thankful for the things they have.  The food they eat.  The things that they can purchase.  The places they go.  Their surroundings.

Tangible things.

Those things ARE blessings AND are definitely things that are provided by God and are worthy of gratitude. I absolutely don't dispute that.

However, I feel that true gratitude goes much deeper.  Gratitude is being thankful for the intangible things.  Having a heart that is open to seeing things that can't be purchased, that can't be made from your own hands. Oh yes, God definitely blesses each of us with different talents and the ability to use those talents IS a blessing.

It is as if He has completely turned on that light in our hearts in recent months and most specifically in previous weeks.  Even the kids are making comments that are showing depth in their thought processes in regards to being truly thankful.

I can't adequately describe the way we are seeing life right now.  We are almost hyper-aware and sensitive to the things of life that TRULY matter.

The type of gratitude we are personally experiencing and noticing in our children is a level of gratitude that I feel can only come from truly focusing on issues of the heart.  It's those things that only God can provide. Things that you can not physically grasp and hold in your hands.

When you being to notice those things in your lives, it's impossible to truly not live in a state of gratitude and a state of overflowing joy.  Gratitude even in the hardest of times.  Even through harsh struggles.

A heart of gratitude recognizes those things that may seem trivial to other people, but to you it means the world.

It's more than what money can buy.

It's more than what you can do with your own hands.

It's more than what someone else might have done for you.

Those ARE important, but a true heart of gratitude sees beyond the surface.  It sees beyond the "things" of this world and it reaches and holds on to those things that are intangible.  Yes, you may not can physically hold them in your hands.  You hold them in your heart.

"Things" put our focus on well........things.....

"Things" cause us to be grateful for what we can provide for ourselves.  God may give us the ability to earn a living and buy those things, but we make the choice of what to purchase.  We can be thankful for the money to buy those things, but our focus is still remaining on self.

True gratitude is the things that we can't produce.  We can't provide.  We can't attain with our own hands.

It's the things of depth, of the heart, and things on a spiritual level.

True gratitude allows you to wake up with a song of joy in your heart, despite hard situations. It allows you to go to bed at night with thanksgiving in your heart even when you are uncertain what the next day my bring.  It allows you to find the good in others.  It allows you to see beyond what is physically in front of you.

We so often get caught up with what we have or don't have.  We are grateful and thankful for things.  Yet, that puts the focus on "me, me, me".  When true gratitude has depth,  it's not about me.  It's about Him.  It's about His gifts in our lives.  Those that you and I physically can't touch, but mean more than any thing we could ever purchase.

I also believe once He has opened your eyes to that true gratitude that you can't look at "things" the same anymore.  They truly no longer matter.

Today, I'm thankful for how He is at work in our hearts.  He is showing us the error of our ways.  He is teaching us life is NOT about us.  He is showing and revealing things to us that we aren't proud of.  We are seeing our "filth" and our need to constantly be forgiven and under His grace.

Perhaps that is the greatest form of gratitude.  Knowing how unworthy I am of any gift He provides and the abundance of those gifts is because of the incredible nature of our loving God.  Gratitude is a heart process that takes the focus off of self and onto Him.  If our gratitude focuses on "me".....we are losing the point of gratitude.  

It's almost as if as a society our claims of gratitude have become selfish in nature.

We are thankful for our food.  Really?  Have we EVER really gone hungry or truly wondered if we would be able to feed our children their next meal? Perhaps that is true for some of us, but for most of  We have survived some very lean times financially and had some very real worries about paying bills, but we've never truly feared hunger.  We may not have been able to purchase what we really wanted to eat, but we didn't fear not having food.  Our thankfulness is really just because we were able to CHOOSE our food, or cook what we wanted.

I fear that we (including myself!) use the words thankful and grateful without truly thinking about it.  We toss it around like a "catch" word.

I'm challenging myself to look beyond the surface in the way we live our lives. Learning to focus more on issues of the heart and things that truly have significance.  I'm praying that continues to reveal to our hearts what matters.  This week I'm praying that He takes that to an even deeper level and that He keeps digging in deeper and deeper in my heart.  Revealing more of what He doesn't want in me.  Helping me become more of  who He has designed me to be.  More and more EVERY single day, I realize just how very far away from that person I am.  He may love me unconditionally and cover me with grace, but He also loves me enough to not leave me as I am.  For that, I am truly grateful.  Even when that process is painful.

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