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Reflections | Dr. Leighton Ford (Mentoring)


October 28, 2015

Gratitude: One Way I Stay Alive


I came across this question:

What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?

What would you have?  What would you miss? And in their absence, what would be the first things you’d try to rebuild?

Regretfully, I must admit that I don’t always show gratitude for my children.  The circumstances of their conception, their birth, their upbringing led me to look back and focus on what should or could have been, the troubles, the mistakes, the pain.  And in reflecting on this question, if I woke up and they were gone, I know that I would surely die.

Gratitude is not evasive.  It is ever present, always there. Persistent. Determined. Ready to respond. And yet, our attention often remains on what is not there, rather than cherish what is.

We are socialized to think of gratitude as a state of submission, a virtue of the meek and mild, something only achieved by our world’s saints and martyrs.  But I would argue that gratitude is the gateway to power.  There is power in acknowledging our joys. Gratitude brings fullness to our lives, and honors what God has given us.

The bible uses the word contentment.  Contentment is not a destination, or a landmark to be reached.  It does not lie just past a college degree, or just beyond debt. It doesn’t arrive at your doorstep once you fall in love or get married.  It is a choice.  It is a choice that demonstrates God’s love.  And the irony is, as a society, we love choice.  We love our triple grand, half-caf no foam vanilla soy latte. We want the dressing on the side. Cheddar instead of swiss. Window or aisle.  But when faced with the choice between contentment or complaining, we often go with the latter.

God tells us there’s great gains in contentment.  1 Timothy says we brought nothing in this world and will take nothing with us out of this world.  So we must choose gratitude for everything in between.  Contentment detaches us from ego and connects us to our soul, our joy, our collective lives as God’s people.

And so I am thankful for my unpredictable, untidy life. I bless the interruptions, I practice contentment with the trials. Because when I forget to choose gratitude, if I am frivolous with my blessings, I will surely die.

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