Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Gratitude Experiment

I have written about gratitude before on this blog as it is something I feel passionate about. I have come to learn that gratitude is something more than writing a list of your blessings. It's a deep acknowledgement that everything you have comes from God and is calculated for your best interest. Further, gratitude isn't just about being thankful for what you have. It is being thankful for the good and the bad, for the abundance and the lack in our lives. It's seeing your blessings and God's goodness in all situations and giving thanks for it.

While it is relatively easy to be thankful in your abundance, it seems almost impossible at times to be grateful when things are going wrong in your life. I have found it is also extremely hard to be grateful when you are feeling cheated or deprived or frustrated.

Here's an example. Lately, the driver side door in my van does not unlock. This requires me to unlock the passenger side and crawl into the driver seat or reach over and unlock it and then walk around the car to get in. It's extremely frustrating, as you can imagine. It's at those moments that I feel intense ingratitude for my car. Ok, so that's the nice way to say that I pretty much want to take a baseball bat to it. But I know that I am supposed to be grateful for all that I have. It seems impossible to be thankful for a car that is falling apart. But the reality is, that is my lot in life right now. If God felt that I needed a nicer car He would help us to have the money to buy one, but that hasn't happened. But He has blessed me with a car. He has blessed me with the ability to fill my car with gas. And honestly, I know that is a blessing!

So this is how my gratitude experiment started. Every time I feel ungrateful or want to complain or groan or take a baseball bat to something, I try to find sincere gratitude in that moment. Leaky faucets become a blessing because you acknowledge you have clean, running water and most of the world does not. Whiny children become a blessing when you acknowledge that they are healthy and safe as you tuck them in at night. This gratitude experiment forces you to look past the annoyance to see the treasure. And I promise there are treasures in every frustration, heartache and problem.

The cool thing has been, that as I have done this, I have really felt my gratitude deepen. I have learned so much in the process. I have learned that sometimes God withholds certain blessings from us because we need to learn how to be grateful for what he's already given us. I have also come to learn that sometimes blessings don't come in the form we expect. Sometimes the greatest blessing comes in our lack, rather than in our abundance. Truly, in my want I have gained more than I could ever have had in my abundance. And that has made my life abundantly better.

I challenge you to participate in the gratitude experiment. Look for ways to be grateful. Keep digging until you hit sincere, real gratitude that flows freely from you. And then remember to thank Heavenly Father for giving you those blessings out of His infinite goodness. He is good, and He knows what we need and He knows what will make us happy in the long run. He knows the things we need to grow and to have joy. Most of the time those "things" aren't things at all.

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