Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nurturing a heart of gratitude

A friend (I didn’t get permission to share this so she will remain nameless) shared with me a reflection that she has been doing on a daily basis and I liked the idea so much that I had to join in. Each day, before she prays, journals and spends time in God’s word she’s been taking 5 minutes to journal and write down 5 things that she is grateful for about her husband.

By our one year anniversary in marriage Jeremy and I talked on and on about how easy it was to fall into the daily routine and take each other for granted. About how often and easily we nit pick each other rather than use our words for encouragement and gratitude (the things that we were so good at prior to marriage). About how easily criticalness can cloud out the gratitude when we’re not led by the Spirit. Since this talk occurred (6 months ago) I’ve been reflecting and trying to find ways to cultivate and nurture a heart of gratitude for my husband. To be more encouraging, and to, by God’s power, avoid criticizing him. When my friend explained to me what she has been doing (that I listed in the paragraph above) I thought it was something that I just had to try. She said that it has helped her to be more grateful for her husband, and to be less quick to criticize or be negative as a result of the abundance of gratitude. So I set out. Not to do a program, not to do it for a week, a month or any specific time frame, but as the Lord leads me. If I miss some days that’s fine. But most days I’m going to do this, indefinitely, until I feel that He is leading me otherwise. I think this is the perfect expression of Philippians 4:8 and focusing on the admirable, lovely, praiseworthy and just.

On a side note, the first day I sat down to do this Jeremy and I had just gotten in a bit of an argument or conflicting conversation. But dedicated to my new mission I sat down, journal in hand purposing to be grateful. So I stared at the paper for about 5 minutes before I wrote anything at all. It was almost embarrassing. It revealed to me how hard my heart was in that moment because I had to think and think hard to find something to be grateful for. I was self-absorbed, and absorbed in the moment and my emotions. It showed me the ugliness within my own heart and my need for God. Once I worked through the realization, at how bad I am inside, then I set out again to list 5 reasons that I love Jeremy and am grateful for him. Slowly the Lord softened my heart and I started listing things on the paper as my head flooded with ideas. Isn’t it just like God to use something I had planned and show me my need for Him through it? Isn’t it just like God to completely throw off exactly what I had planned in order to bring me back to Him? What good are any of my plans anyway if I undertake them apart from Him? So several days later I’ve approached this task several more times with a more loving heart from the start. I don’t think it’s a cure for a lack of gratitude (only God can change our hearts), but I’ve enjoyed the purposeful reflection.

I think this same method could be used for cultivating and nurturing a heart of gratitude for the cross. Do we as Christians take the Jesus’ sacrifice too lightly? Do we understand the depths from what we’ve been saved and the price that was paid? Do we understand what we’ve been given? Do we live like it? Perhaps meditating purely on this daily would help us not to take these things lightly.


1 comment:

kim.g... said...

finally got to sit still and read this through.. you are a treasure, shannon!! appreciate you being vulnerable and sharing your heart! ..a lovely wife you are (and will continue to become!) ..i have truly learned volumes from you during this short time that i've known you.. i will certainly be intentionally journaling and/or blogging my own gratitudes!<3