Rediscover Gratitude

rediscover gratitude this Christmas
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

I stepped into the second grocery store for the day, I could feel anxiety creeping in. I pushed back and then irritability wanted to make an appearance. Again. The crowds and traffic increase as we inch closer to the busyness of the holidays. 

My challenge is: I should be displaying the fruit of the spirit and all the attributes that look like Jesus, but overwhelm can make me cranky and stressed. I don’t think it’s just me. Statistically, here is some data.

88% of respondents believe the holidays are the most stressful time of the year. For many, excessive feelings of stress start as early as November (84%), and a majority of that group say stress usually peaks in late November.

The survey, by JoyOrganics, revealed that many (67%) seem to be placing unnecessary pressure on themselves to produce the “perfect” holiday, and 47% admit they usually take on more than they can handle each year.

Other telling statistics include: 43% say their schedules become jam-packed during the holidays, and 59% would characterize their typical holiday season as “chaotic.”

According to StudyFinds.org, these statistics reveal what we all want to avoid, stress. 

I love Jesus, but, preparing emotionally and mentally for the season is a definite on my to-do list. 

I’m refusing to let Jesus get Hijacked in this season while paying attention to my triggers of disappointment. Whose with me?

Setting Balanced Expectations. 

Margin in my calendar.

Unrealistic expectations laid at the feet of Jesus.

A set budget . 

Check. 

Don’t we all wish it was that easy? 

It’s not as easy as a checklist, but we can choose Jesus and what brings joy. Even when things are hard.

We are all lacking in being physically touched this year. Hugs heal. Hugs are necessary when you’re a physical touch person.

I try to keep telling myself #grateful, #thankful, #blessed. I’m not a fan of christianese terms, but strive to be thankful as I race through errands. 

It’s easy to get self focused through busyness, our own struggles and disappointments about life.

Being Grateful During the Holidays

As I was blasting through my tasks, I impatiently grumbled under my breathe as I looked for a sales clerk to help me with, my first world problem of finding the price of an item.

A woman my daughter’s age came from the back, looking exhausted as she said, “How can I help you?” I responded, “Just needing a price please.” 

As I looked into her tired, glassy eyes, I saw sadness. The Holy Spirit slowing me down to visit for a minute turned into her mentioning stress through the holiday. 

She shared how she was an only child taking care of both of her parents who battled cancer. My meaningless price check faded away as the weight of her burden pierced my heart.

She ran ragged between daily chemotherapy appointments for both of her parents while commuting to work four days a week to help provide for their family.

The toll it was taking on her wasn’t hard to see. She was overwhelmed with emotional exhaustion.

My mom-heart ached for this young woman, while my Grinch-heart grew back to the place of love where it should have been from the beginning of this day.

I stopped in my tracks. Conviction set in as I thought about my menial tasks and insignificant struggles. 

This young woman’s burden was a boulder, but her tribe wouldn’t let her carry it alone. 

Neighbors helped with yard work, co-workers offered gas money and she experienced others move with compassion for her family.

She expressed how grateful she was even though life was hard for her.

It’s tempting to live life in a vacuum and let self- focus skew our view because of our own personal trials. 

Our joy is often connected to alleviating the burden of another. That’s what Kalyn’s neighbors and co-workers did for her. 

Do You Have Empathy?

Maybe you’re in the position to help someone a little or a lot. Maybe it’s with a word of encouragement or a simple hug. 

Empathy doesn’t cost a lot. Stepping in the shoes of another shifts our narrow perspective and broadens our view of someone else’s battle. Not just our own heavy load. 

What if our peace comes from helping others experience peace.

Reciprocation is a universal spiritual law. Jesus said, whatever you have done unto the least of these you have done unto me. (Matthew 25:40)

Love is the highest law.

Where can you offer love and help today?

Think about the resilience of our spirit. We are designed to overcome. I reflect back to how God brought me through painful seasons.

He refused to let go of me, while being fully committed to growing me .

I see God’s hand and faithfulness when I reflect on how I’ve trudged through seasons of feeling faithless. He was still faithful when I was faithless. He sent people who helped and encouraged me to look for Jesus right where I was.

Leaves falling remind us a new season is coming. We can anticipate and expect change. He is able to redeem and restore the disappointment of the past year.

Let’s believe God.

We can choose to trust His heart when we can’t trace exactly where His hand is this year.

This year is different. Feeds aren’t flooding social media with gratitude. Hope is intentionally being hunted down. 

Grueling is the word I can use to describe 2020. I want to give you the Rah-rah faith answer but I can’t, because it’s been tough. But Jesus did not leave us alone to figure it out. He’s in it with us.

Between Covid, Small Businesses shut down, Riots, deaths, separation from family and friends. Political divide. But Jesus is still the same.

The same promises made 2,000 years ago still apply to all of our circumstances. 

We can choose to stay connected to them when our eyes show us otherwise and our hearts are weary.

God’s Not wringing His hands with worry. He is giving us fresh ideas. Innovative ones.

Sorting through rubble in our lives is never easy. Looking for the silver lining is there if we search for it. We can heal. We can unite. We can fight for each other instead of with each other. 

We can be a catalyst for change and bring light into an exhausted world.

God is always doing something new in our lives. Just because God seems silent doesn’t mean He is.He often works the most when we sense Him the least. Distance frightens us. Quietness from God makes us question if He’s still there.

God does His best work through our darkness. Calling us to trust him in chaos and climactic changes all around us.

He anchors us with His word. Reminding us to keep walking by faith, not by our sight.

The moment things go sideways in our personal lives, business, and communities, God is already raising people up with new ideas to help bring restoration.

Hope rises. Even when things look bleak. Prophetic voices remind us to see the unseen. To look for what isn’t obvious to our natural eye.

Habakkuk points us to this truth in-

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,

Habakkuk 3:17

We still praise him.

God is doing something new this year.

Do you see it?

Isaiah 43:19 brings focus and encouragement reminding us to keep our head in the game.

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth: shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19

He reminds us of two things:

1) Don’t remember the former things and all of the past things. Look for new movements. New life.

2) What God says : I am the God who makes a way through the driest places and the turbulent waters.

And then, after a spiritual tune-up and refocus, as we meditate on these promises new images begin to take root internally.

Our attitude may need an overhaul so we can re-discover gratitude and get a fresh perspective.

Negative mindsets take zero energy. We can take inventory of circumstances surrounding us and let the reality of them dictate our decisions.

But, we don’t.

We rise higher. We think differently. We think like God by renewing our minds. 

We choose to walk with our head in the clouds but also with our feet planted firmly on the earth. Being practical and being spiritual.

We walk by faith and trust God.

We choose His word over our weary hearts in this season.

We choose to serve one another in our community.

We resist disconnecting from God and each other because of disappointment.

Father, help us to re-discover all of the good things we have in our lives. We acknowledge that every good thing comes from you. Thank you. 

We are thankful for your mercy and constant love towards us. Open our eyes to see you.

Everyday I will bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever

Psalm 145:2 

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