I find doing a gratitude journal rather blasé, to be honest. It gets tedious. Not all of us have grandiose things happening to us each and every day – things that make us stop and say, “Wow”. You know, like winning the lottery, or going on a dream cruise for up to a month, or being able to take your kids to Disney World… No, for the most of us, it’s just routine, every day things. And that is what makes being grateful so hard. It’s just the mundane or the routine – nothing extravagant or fantastic…
But, that's the trick, isn't it?
That is what gratitude is… I think when we have truly learnt to be grateful for the mundane, to find things in the routine we’re in to be grateful for, then we have truly learnt to appreciate our lives and God’s gift to us. A little while ago, I kept blogging about how awesome it is to have a nice, hot shower every morning. I would quite literally turn the water off, grab my towel and say, “Thank you, Lord”. It is the most mundane thing, I know. But, I haven’t been doing that in a while, because after a bit it starts to sound – I don’t know – false? Untrue? Routine? Not sincere? Then something odd started to happen – I stopped enjoying my showers as much. And I didn’t even notice. The routine got so routine and I stopped being grateful for a small blessing.
I suspect that a part of me really loathes doing a gratitude journal – it is hard coming up with new things to be grateful for and really mundane to keep mentioning the same things over and over and over again… The following excerpt I wrote in 2014, and here I am THREE years later, and this is still as true for me today, as it was then.
And now I am starting to learn – I need to think God’s thoughts based on His word. Anxiety is not from God. And having an unhealthy relationship to food is not from God. And thinking that I am not coping, or that I am going to fall to pieces every time something happens, is not from God. These are not even closely based on God’s word or His truth.
And that is why it is so important to be careful what you think about.
2 Timothy 1:7: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
You see, fear is not from God. Peace and love are.
John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
And so what am I doing to change my mind-set? Well, first, I am focusing on what God’s word says. And second, I am working very hard to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. To see the good in my life and to be grateful for it – no matter how small – instead of seeing the negative.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
And today, I get this Joyce Meyers reading which lets me know that I am most certainly not alone:
by Joyce Meyer – posted May 20, 2014
All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]. —Proverbs 15:15
Shortly after I began to seriously study the Bible, I felt an oppressive atmosphere around me. Everything seemed gloomy—as if something bad was going to happen. It wasn’t anything I could explain, just a vague, dreaded sense of something evil or wrong about to happen.
“Oh, God,” I prayed. “What’s going on? What is this feeling?”
I had hardly uttered the question when God spoke to me. “Evil forebodings.” I had to meditate on that for several minutes. I had never heard the phrase before. God had spoken to me, and I stayed quiet before Him so I could hear the answers.
I realized, first of all, that my anxieties weren’t real—that is, they were not based on true circumstances or situations. I was having problems—as most of us do —but they were not as critical as the devil was making it appear. My acceptance of his lies, even though they were vague, was opening the door for the evil forebodings. I eventually realized that I had lived in the midst of similar gloomy feelings most of my life. I was expecting something bad to happen instead of aggressively expecting something good.
I felt a dread, an unexplained anxiety around me. I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific—only that sense of something evil or terrible.
The Living Bible says, “When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong.” That’s how I felt, as if something—maybe everything—was wrong or was about to go wrong.
As previously stated, I realized that for most of my life, I had been miserable because of evil thoughts and anxious forebodings.
As I continued to meditate on evil forebodings, God broke through and gave me a clear revelation. I was miserable because my thoughts were miserable—my thoughts were poisoning my outlook. My thoughts robbed me of the ability to enjoy my life. I should have been saying, “Thank You, God, for today. Thank you for Dave and my children and my friends and all Your blessings.” But, instead of being positive, I found myself even dreading to answer the phone when it rang, for fear it might be bad news.
All of this gloom and doom that surrounded me began in my abusive childhood. I endured a great deal of misery, and most of my life was unhappy and filled with disappointments. I began to live in a vague fear and dread of the future. I had not been taught to let go of what was behind. I couldn’t rejoice in what I had now and the good things going on in my life. I focused on the past and what might lie ahead—and what lay ahead was usually gloom and doom and chaos because that was what I was expecting. Satan had built a stronghold in my mind, and I was trapped until I learned I could tear down that negative, evil stronghold by applying God’s Word to my life and circumstances.
I once had a friend whom I’ll call Marlene. She lived in a state of constant chaos. One day she had health problems. The next day Marlene’s son had lost his job, and they were going to have to support him and his family. As soon as that was over, another traumatic situation would erupt. Marlene was a Christian, but she lived in fear of bad news. Marlene would not have known how to live a life that was not filled with chaos. All of her conversation was negative and gloomy. Even her countenance was sad and gloomy.
I realized that I had started to become like Marlene—I was miserable because I had allowed Satan to rob me of the ability to enjoy my life. It took a while before I was able to be positive most of the time, but little by little, my thinking changed, and so did my life. I no longer live in evil forebodings, expecting to hear at any moment of a new problem. Now I purposely expect good things to happen in my life. I realize now that I can choose my thoughts. I don’t have to accept Satan’s lies.
Like everyone else, negative things do happen to me from time to time, but I don’t become negative because of them. I remain positive, and that helps me enjoy my life even in the midst of the storms.
Dear Lord Jesus, through so many days in my life, I have been robbed of my joy and contentment by evil forebodings. As those feelings come to me, please remind me that You are in control. Help me to rest in You and rejoice in Your power in my life. Amen.
And the reason for this is that I have not be actively pursuing an attitude of gratitude. Instead, I’ve allowed myself to become “bored” with the whole idea. One would think that I would know better. And I do believe that Joyce Meyer is right, we allow negativity to gently creep into our lives and filter everything through we see and do through its dirty lens. I should know better. I need to be more proactive in changing my thinking – instead of waiting for some one to do it for me.
I am grateful:
- That the most amazing father in the world happens to be my husband. Our little Baby Girl is truly one blessed little girl.
- That we had the most awesome couple of days – from book club on Wednesday night, to wine club on Thursday night, to a play date on Friday and meeting up with friends on Saturday. We had a really good weekend.
- For being able to spoil my hubby for father’s day.
- For really good coffee.
- And really good wine…
Mundane? Maybe – but I am certainly feeling grateful right now…