Many of us have found our attitudes radically altered by reading, and re-reading, Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts. But, whether from indwelling personality or past injuries, what can you do if you automatically see the glass as half empty?
Thankfulness and thanksgiving pop up everywhere I turn. In our church we can log into our website and add our blessings to those listed, with a goal of 10,000!
But how do we gain an attitude of thanksgiving? What if, like me, you are pensive by nature, and naturally tune into the pain and brokenness around you?
In a room full of people I can’t help noticing the uncomfortable one, the wall-flower, the one retreating with an unexpressed need. I imagine how the moth feels when it flies into a spider web. It has been a struggle to assert authority over my puppy, rather than dwell on her feelings.
It surprised me to realize that by allowing my sensitive nature to rule, I am, but default, viewing the world through a negative lens
looking at the world as if God doesn’t exist
or he doesn’t care
or doesn’t have the power
looking at the world without faith!
That is not a place I want to stay. My first step has been to take every thought captive.
…tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 MSG
Some days it is an every minute, constant battle to stop the negative mind-slant. I must simply freeze, and re-frame that view.
Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. Philippians 4:6-7
When I choose to notice it, even the tiniest detail can become a delight, an amazement—a natural state of thanksgiving. As long as I recognize that I am only the recipient of all the wonders, big and little, and give thanks to the One who made them, I go from wonder to amazement.
Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. Romans 1:24 MSG
I won’t lie. It is hard to change a life-long way of looking at the world. My kids and husband sometimes still have to remind me when I launch into a tale of family woe.
Alone, when I recognize a negative thought slipping in, I speak thanksgiving out loud. It feels like it clears the air, and maybe it does.
The spiritual air.
Though I have worked hard to change, I’ve worked to alter patterns before that didn’t budge. The difference now is asking for God’s power, in the Holy Spirit, to transform me from the inside out.
And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:24 MSG
It feels so good now when I spontaneously speak thanksgiving, or my heart swells with gratitude.
Last week I drove across the middle of Florida. In the wide open expanse of sky, dark clouds billowed up and out – quite an impressive sight. After weeks of heavy rain, all the rivers and creeks were flooded way beyond their banks. I enjoyed the reflection of the clouds on bodies of water I never would have noticed at their normal levels. And on the return trip, after only one day of sunshine, the water had receded and exposed fresh green grass. A cow and two calves gleefully chomped on it. Those little delights made me smile.
Sometimes it’s a pair of sand hill cranes whooping over our house on their sunset trek to another pond. It can be as grand as the arrival of the roseate spoonbills or sunset on the water, or as simple as a butterfly or a delicate flower, or as striking as bare, weathered trees on a sand dune.
Today I enjoyed my Golden, Lily, and Sophie, who is staying with us while my oldest and her family are settled in a house, retrieving and swimming together, simply enjoying the process, no matter how many times I threw their toy.
Back home, tired from a busy day, they played on their backs.
How can I not chuckle, and give thanks for the delight in these small things?
In The Power of Being Thankful, Joyce Meyer says,
I believe that if we’ll stay amazed at the things God is doing in our lives—even the little things—we’ll never be without hope. I encourage you to realize what you have, be thankful, and decide to live amazed…jaw-dropping, wide-eyed, “Wow! That was God!” amazed.
Some times are easier than others. Last week, caring for my granddaughters, I really didn’t feel well. I had way less energy than they did, so we built puzzles on the floor, then laid on top of them and snapped silly selfies together. We giggled at our photos, grateful for laughter together.
When I’m dead tired, and everything in my body hurts, it’s hard to look around and appreciate what I see. But even then I can give thanks for a warm shower, dry towels and a sumptuously comfortable bed with clean sheets!
It’s always a choice.
Are you a half empty of half full person?
What is your struggle with keeping an attitude of gratitude?