I Don't feel Thankful...
Updated: Dec 11, 2022
Is gratitude a feeling or decision?
Though we are complex humans with many emotions and perspectives, it seems as though there's this unspoken expectation even within the church to put on our happy face all of the time. We also see it all the time on social media. Every morning our favorite influencers are up at 3am or so ready to post their affirmations, thoughts-of-the-day, the people you should avoid, or a bible scripture for you to see when you wake up. I also see this within the church every Sunday.
On Sundays, we gather together and share the highlight reel of our lives, smile at one another, and go on about our day. I mean, I get it at the end of the day we all have our share of trials we're facing and we don't want to be brought down (sort-of-speak) by someone else's issues. Also, when we share the things that are troubling us, sometimes people are quick to ask how can I pray for you or simply I will keep you lifted in prayer as a way to shorten the conversation. Furthermore, if someone keeps bringing the same issue to us we can feel the urge to avoid them or be quick to try to get them back a superficially happy place too. It's breaks my heart that the broken hearted may feel as though they have to leave the church and go through a valley alone because they don't have a safe place to be broken, real, heard; inquisitive. During my own journey through healing from church hurt/abuse, infertility, and loss I realized how much my feelings determined my faith.
For my readers that are married, you know first hand what being in union with someone for years may look like. The first year everything is new and you're infatuated with that person. Then around year two or three the "Cloud 9"effect is gone and everything they do gets on your nerves. By year five you grow tired of going to war about every little thing so you adopt the phrase, "pick your battles". However, for those that have made it past year 10 you know that you're no longer led by your emotions to love you partner. By year ten you wake up and intentionally make the decision to love (sacrifice for) your spouse. Like making the decision to love one another, thankfulness is a decision that we far too often leave to our emotions to make.
A few days ago I was listening to a sermon by Grace to You titled, In Everything Give Thanks (B). As the pastor went through the sermon, it was like he read-me-for-filth (lol) and he doesn't even know me (lol). With every illustration he presented I saw how unthankful I have been over the years and when the sermon came to an end and I took a moment to process what was said; it was like a light bulb went off in my head (come on Holy Spirit). For so long I was bitter about my "lot in life", unachieved goals, and always feeling misunderstood that I couldn't muster up the feeling to be thankful and that was the issue. I was waiting for the right circumstances to come along to incite gratitude verse being grateful and thankful for the work God has already ready done in me and others and the testimony that my current trial would produce to encourage others about the goodness of God.
I am not going to sit up here and act like being thankful wouldn't come easier if the right circumstances fell into place, however if you can relate, that is, if the right circumstances have to fall in place for you to express thankfulness unto the Lord we have to ask ourselves the following tough questions:
Do we TRULY believe that God has a plan for our lives?
Are we really mad because God's plan doesn't line up with ours?
What are we feeding ourselves in the morning and throughout the day that may cause us to be ungrateful toward this unique life that God has redeem for HIS purpose and the building of HIS kingdom?
Asking myself these questions along my journey changed the way I viewed what I was going through and I pray that it will spark something in you too. If we looked at trials as a unique experience to be able to relate to others and grow closer to God in a way that just couldn't happen otherwise we will journey through them so much more differently. We will be thankful for the growth that God is allowing in our lives and since we know that He has a purpose in allowing us to go through trials we would seek his direction. However, if our eyes are preoccupied with what everyone else has, and how easy life seems to be for them; then we can never fully see the beauty work God is doing in our lives.