"There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up."
Ever notice how quickly negative thoughts slip into our lives? Even on a gorgeous spring day, we find a way to complain about the weather. "I wish it were a little cooler today." "I wish my allergies weren't so bad." "Why can't there be a breeze today?" The list goes on... When there is a lull in a conversation, I find myself saying something negative to keep the conversation going... "I'm so tired today." "My children have been such a handful lately." "My house is such a mess." I don't really even have a need for saying these things, they just tend to come to my lips. Why is this? Why can't I focus on the positive and let those things come to my mouth first?
I think we are living in a state of ingratitude. We are negative because we are constantly focused on ourselves instead of focusing on the gifts that already surround us. I am so guilty of this. But, I want to change. I want to be grateful for the gifts that God has given me, and I don't want to focus on what I don't have. We may not see ingratitude as a sin, but I'm learning that it is a sin, and that with every negative word that comes out of my mouth, I am pushing myself further from God. Instead, however, I could be thanking Him for what He's given me, even when things are not going my way. And, as I focus on the positive, my attitude will learn to change. It won't change by itself and it won't always be easy, but by thanking God throughout my day, I will train myself to focus on what is important.
I have been inspired and convicted by the book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. In this book, the author begins writing down the gifts that surround her each day, the things that may not seem important at all. But, by keeping this list, she is able to change her whole outlook on life. She is able to be grateful and train her mind to focus on the gifts God has given her. In the end, isn't this what we want? We don't want to focus on the negative, because then what are we left with? We are left with nothing but a negative spirit filled with bitterness and sin. I want my lips to be filled with thanksgiving because even if all goes wrong in my life, I still have much for which to be thankful. I should always be thankful that Jesus Christ has chosen to give me life even though I am sinful and wretched and undeserving. So, I am keeping a list. Mostly, I am keeping this list to help me be ever mindful that God gives us so many gifts each day. By writing them down, I'm hoping to refocus my mind on the things that are "true, noble, right, good, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy" (Philippians 4:8).
When I started my list, we were on our way back from the zoo. The kids were getting restless and our one-year old was beginning to scream.
#1 Family Car Rides
Yes, I could focus on the negative, but I'm choosing to re-shape my thoughts. The fact is, it is a gift that we are able to take a family trip to the zoo, and this is a gift that we won't have forever. So, that's my gift #1. My list and battle with my negative attitude continues...
"Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"Do everything without complaining or arguing." Philippians 2:14
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think..." Romans 12:2