I’ve been feeling giddy about finally posting this piece on gratitude. It was difficult to not post it before or on Thanksgiving Day, but I thought it would be all the more powerful and applicable to our lives in the aftermath of overflowing platters of comfort food, lazy afternoons of football, and the warmth of great company.
It is all too easy to express gratitude on the day that is meant for that—a day set aside for the giving of thanks. But what about the other 364 days? Are they filled with thanksgiving?
A couple of years ago, I read a book that drastically changed the way I view life. In her book One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp radically shook me with the simple yet profound lesson of eucharisteo: the giving of thanks.
Giving thanks is not something to be hoarded or stowed away for one day a year, but a daily practice, a habitual rhythm.
Gratitude is not a moment, or an event, or a single day. Gratitude is a posture, an attitude, a lens through which we view our lives.
In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp declares a bold call to action: to live our lives ever-seeking the joy that comes from gratitude. She calls us to write down three things each day that we are thankful for: to seek out the mundane, the extraordinary, the hard-but-good, the learning curves, the quiet moments, the once-in-a-lifetime and the daily blessings.
So each day, I open my journal and scribble three things.
89. the sound of the ocean from my apartment
104. long nights spent in Payson Library preparing for my thesis
176. the laughter of a child
283. having You to cling to when I am so far from home, and everything familiar
And that’s just it: “The heights of our joy are measured by the depths of our gratitude.” (A. Voskamp)
When we are grateful, we are joyful.
When we are grateful, we are whole.
When we are grateful, we are glorifying the One who created all good things.
When we are grateful, we breach the gap between heaven and earth for a brief moment.
Gratitude isn’t just reserved for the mountain peaks or the spring time. It is far too easy to be grateful when our lives are overflowing with blessings. No, gratitude is all the more vital to our spiritual heartbeat when we are in the midst of a storm or wandering through a valley. We must do the hard thing: we must choose gratitude.
Gratitude is shifting our focus from darkness, scarcity and fear to light, abundance and trust.
I believe this is the essence of the harsh truth we find in the book of James: “Consider it pure joy, brothers and sisters.” It’s up to us to fight for that joy by expressing gratitude. So each day, I choose gratitude.
Because I don’t know what else to do, but get down on my knees and kiss the ground that we walk on, that sweet smelling earth that God so graciously gave us.
To look into the eyes of family and friends, or even a stranger, and be thankful for their heartbeat.
To gaze at the bountiful plate before us and give thanks that He is the provider of our daily bread, and much much more.
To let loose a gentle smile through the suffering and the pain and the loneliness, and still proclaim that God is good and He is still the Giver of all good things.
To set our hearts not on the gifts, but on the Giver—that is the greatest gratitude.