Gratitude...What was I Thinking?!

1:09 PMHeather

Oh, the bitter irony.  That I should choose the word "gratitude" for my word of the year...and then promptly turn around and become part of the great flu epidemic of 2013.  And, it's been miserable.  I've used approximately 5,781 tissues thus far.  I've become intimately acquainted with the HGTV daily line up.  My bed now has a permanent indention where my body has lain for the last 7 days.  FINALLY on the tail end of it, I've graduated to my recliner and watching Tia and Tamera on demand.  My aches and fever have turned into the gut wrenching cough that sounds like a two-pack-a-day smoker named Harriet who wears her hair in a beehive and slings hash at a truck stop.  It literally scared my sixth grader when he heard the first exhausting coughing fit.  "No, son--it's okay!"  I yelled in between spasms.  "I promise I haven't coughed up a lung."

Gratitude?  Bah hambug.  Thanks for nothing, immune system.  I thought you had my back.

The extent of my ability to concentrate this past week has been limited to reading my Facebook news feed.  And, so, I stewed in my anguish and bitterness and agony, all the while thinking that it was time to come up with a new word for the year.  How about healing?  Or simply "help"?  

Then, there it was.  Staring me in the face.  Ugh.  Why does God have to be so persistent in this darn life lessons?  

My friend Pam's Facebook status stared down my bad attitude and gave me a big slap in the face.  She was offering an amazing quote about gratitude and it's power in our discontended world.  The clincher?  It was from the Nancy Leigh DeMoss' book Choosing Gratitude.  Yes, bloggy friends.  One and the same book that is sitting on my shelf screaming at me to be read.  The same book that reinforced to me the need to choose the word gratitude for my one little word this year.

Okay, I can take a hint.  So, I gingerly left my sick bed to venture the ten feet to the bookshelf.  And, I dove in.  I have to admit, I haven't gotten far.  But, hey--I have all year, right?!  I've decided it's best to take my time and really chew on this.

Gratitude.  I have to admit that thus far, I've been thinking of gratitude as like a side dish in my spiritual walk.   As if, as a believer, I walk through the buffet of the fruits of the spirit.  Patience.  Check.  Self-control.  Check.  Joy.  Check.  And so and so forth.  And, then, as I grow spiritually, I might also grab me some gratitude as a little extra.  Non-essential.  But, a bonus, for sure. 

But, in just the first chapter of Choosing Gratitude, I've had an epiphany.  Gratitude is not an extra or a tag-on to our spiritual walk.  Not at all.  Gratitude is essential.  It's paramount in how we relate to our Savior.  

Here's how I'm seeing it.  Grace is God's gift to us.  Gratitude is our gift to Him.   

He covers our sin and pours out favor.   And, our heart response is to praise Him with an attitude of thankfulness.  Not a compartimentalized "thank-you" that caps up our meal time blessings or good-night prayer.  But, a continual heart condition of gratefulness.  A mentality of awe and worship that permeates our thoughts, words, and actions continuously because we humble ourselves into a proper response to His goodness.

Wow.  I got a lot to learn and a long way to go.  To even begin to grasp where this gratitude thing is going is a huge baby step.  To see where I want to go, and imagine how my daily outlook and attitude can change if I can allow God to weave gratitude into my constant heart condition.  It means I must be willing to weed out bitterness, slay entitlement, root out discontent.  It means I must be ever mindful of all I have instead of all I think I should have.   

I can see the foggy outline of the path before me.  And, all I can say is that I think it's going to be an amazing journey.  Just as soon as I shake off this flu.  Thank you, Lord, for the new places where you want to stretch me.  May I learn to be grateful.

  

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