Week Two: Gratitude.
"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"
(Psalm 118:1, ESV)
|My 2.5 year old plant, the little bit of green in my room I ever treasure.|
For this week, I've practiced the spiritual discipline of gratitude. Though I wish gratitude was my default mode, I too frequently miss out on seeing the blessings God has given – the ones so clearly present if I would just give a moment to say, "Thanks, God."
Here's some of the basics of the discipline of gratitude, per Adele Calhoun's perspective:
"Desire: to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's prompting to live with a grateful heart, cognizant of God's work in my life and my abundant resources.
Definition: Gratitude is a loving and thankful response toward God for his presence with us and within this world. Though 'blessings' can move us into gratitude, it is not at the root of a thankful heart. Delight in God and his good will is the heartbeat of thankfulness.
- Prayers and songs that focus on God's generosity
- Gratefully giving and sharing all you are and have as a sign of your thankfulness to God
- Expressing gratitude to others; the habit of saying 'thank you,' 'I am so grateful,' 'you are so kind' and so forth
- Gratefully noticing God's presence and gifts throughout the day
- Practicing an abundance mentality; counting the blessings of life
- Keeping a gratitude journal of the myriad gifts God has brought you"
(Calhoun, pg. 31)
Throughout the week, I jotted down some of the gratitudes that came to mind, things I would probably overlook had I not been intentional about noticing these blessings:
- A warm room and a comfy bed
- Caring suitemates who love me, and whom I love
- A 'happy light' for my room and my mental health
- Having a part-time job
- My new Harvard course about the Eucharist
- Times of rest and restoration
- For my new Henri Nouwen book
- Friends who seek me out to spend time with me
- My mentor & friend Katherine and the pearl necklace she gave me
- A fun work environment
- My new C.S. Lewis class (so excited)
- For parents who send me Cyan ink in the mail for my depleted-ink printer
- My church family & prayer time with them
- Honest conversations
- A car I adore and that runs well
- Fun suitemate conversations while we're brushing our teeth before bed
- A constant thread of Facebook messaging with my best friends
Also, when thankfulness came to mind for someone in my day-to-day life, I decided to speak it out or write a 'thank you card' instead of keeping it inside.
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My most meaningful moment this week, though, was when I was sitting in the Gordon-Conwell campus prayer chapel, sitting cross-legged on a pillow and listening to some songs by Audrey Assad play from my phone, allowing the words to wash over me and resonate as prayers to the Lord. When her song "I Shall Not Want" came on, my heart leaned into its true gratitude: the opportunity to be in relationship with God, through Christ. Here's the song, if you'd like to listen:
Some lines that stood out to me were:
"And I shall not want. I shall not want. When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want."
"From the need to be understood. From a need to be accepted. From the fear of being lonely, Deliver me, O God. Deliver me, O God."
In that moment, I was surprised that these lyrics resonated so much with me. However, in my last semester at seminary, I'm well aware that I'm in a pretty transitory season of life; while I'm still settled here, the calendar is steadily moving me closer to graduation. This transition feels pretty lonely to me, and that can be scary. Instead of my nestling closer to God's heart in this loneliness, choosing to be grateful for His presence, I have tried to find this security in other places – in people, in places, in books, in routines.
But I have tasted His goodness, and it is unmistakably satisfying. His goodness frees me to be satisfied in Him, but for a long while now, I have chosen to overlook that His goodness is the source of my flourishing. Somehow, the practice of gratitude this week has restored awareness to me, reminding me that my restless heart can only and ever find its true rest in Him (a sentiment written by St. Augustine). And for this true rest, I am grateful.
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How is the Lord calling you to pay attention to His satisfying goodness in your life today and throughout this week? I'd love to read your thoughts and discoveries.