It is December.
It is the Christmas season.
As the song says, it is the most wonderful time of the year!
But, it is also the busiest.
It can be the most stressful.
The most expensive.
And the most disappointing.
If this is indeed the most wonderful time of the year, should we be feeling more gratitude? At Christmas we celebrate the Gift that God gave to the world. Out of His love, God gave everything He had.
That seems to be cause for thankfulness.
Busyness, debt, disappointment, and much of our stress comes from trying to gain a sense of worth from things apart from God:
Saying yes to all the commitments.
Buying impressive presents.
Portraying the happy image.
(For the church leader, having more people at this year’s church service than last year’s.)
Gratitude takes discipline.
One of the ways our brains have be designed to function is the more you look for something, the more you will find it. For example, if you believe people will ultimately disappoint you, then you will process everything though that lens. Another example, if you perceive that people disrespect you, then you will see your interactions through that lens.
Thus, the more your mind is set on being grateful, the more things to be grateful for you will see.
Growing in your identity in Christ enables more gratitude. When you are not dependent upon roles, relationships, or results for a sense of self, you can be grateful for what God has placed in your life – not what you feel is missing.
When your lens is no longer clouded by lesser things, you will have eyes clear to see what you should be thankful for. Interacting with the world with a mindset of gratitude takes practice and discipline. What better time to start than now?
Here is a short exercise. Do it once or do it daily. But let is be the first step towards your practicing the discipline of gratitude.
Take a moment to slow down. Take a breath, sit where it is quiet, put the to-do list away. Close your eyes and tell Jesus you are happy to be with Him in this moment.
Now that you have centered in Christ, write down five things for which you are thankful. (If you struggle, here is #1, that in Christ, God pursued a relationship with you.) Write one sentence about why you are thankful for the things you have listed. What are you learning?
If you are feeling disappointed or discouraged, ask God what part of your identity you are trying to satisfy yourself. Then be grateful for His patience and forgiveness.
I am an author, discipleship coach, and speaker who helps followers of Jesus gain perspective on their identities so they can experience transformation in their decisions, behaviors and relationships and live in freedom. My book Tree of Lies: Transforming Decisions, Behaviors, and Relationships By Gaining Perspective On Your Identity in Christ available on Amazon (http://amzn.to/2bjMRyx) or Barnes and Noble (http://bit.ly/2c0q62I). Visit TreeofLies.com for free resources.
Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking at organizations/churches, workshops on marriage/discipleship/leadership, and church retreats. For more info, click here to contact me.