On Needing to Give Thanks


Gratitude is something I’ve needed lately.

The reason I pause and tell you I need it, is because I’m realizing we all do.

Needing Give thanksGratitude changes us. It grounds us and adds a spaciousness to reality. It cannot change our circumstance, but it can significantly change how we relate to it.

Gratitude opens our eyes to the present. It takes our gaze off the ever increasing pace of what needs to get done, achievement, planning, and striving toward what we think will “make our life”. It awakens us to the already present dignity, worth, and beauty in every ounce of our daily lives.

When practiced, gratitude gives us back the dignity and worth our lives already possess but we’d lost sight of somewhere underneath all the clutter in our mind. If we pause long enough, gazing on our lives with a true loving thanks, we start to see the things we do have instead of the fears/judgements about what we do not have or may not have in the future.

Gratitude breathes spaciousness. It reminds us of the time we have, the provision we have, the enough-ness of our life. When we forget to be grateful for what is, we all too easily fall into a mindset of scarcity, of not enough. In that headspace, there is never enough time, money, love or energy to go around. This, we all know is an exhausting way to live. The opposite of that exhaustion then is abundance. Enoughness. And gratitude I am learning is the doorway to abundance.

But this gratitude thing isn’t easy. This isn’t something we will fall into. It’s something we have to work at. It’s a conscious practice. A habit. A choice. If we want to live with the kind of abundance our energy levels and heads crave, it will take work. It is counter cultural to pause, gaze with thanks toward our lives exactly as they are and meditate in a culture that beckons “go, get more, stay on trend, make sure you’ll have enough (whatever) in the future”.

It may be hard, but it is necessary. Without the conscious work of intentional regular gratitude we unconsciously get the opposite… a frantic heart resistant to our human reality because it sees through a lens of “not good enough”… through a story of entitlement or “this shouldn’t be happening“.

And this opposite? This can choke a soul of peace, joy and richness.

Re-reading Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist I am reminded that we will see, read and hear everything through the lens of the storyline we are holding within. Said another way: the storyline you operate from will color your world for better or for worse. If left unchecked, an ungrateful storyline can have a deadly effect on your heart.

That is why I write this. I write this because I don’t want us to break. I don’t want us to suffer under the weight of these stories, especially during the holidays. (And who are we to predict the future anyway? How could I ever say with certainty I won’t have or be enough?! Who am I to declare that I am not enough now, or won’t be enough/have enough/be provided for when I’m not my maker or provider to begin with? Only God knows the future. Only He can provide. Only He is our maker and gets declare us worthy, good, beloved…which He all so graciously does.) 

Life is rich with blessing. Everywhere I set my focus I can find it – the breath rising and falling in my lungs… gift. The deep group of friendships surrounding me… gift. My newborn niece squished in embrace… gift. Health…love…consciousness…waking up…Autumn…sleep…nourishment…sunshine…true rest…favorite books…playing…wisdom… gift after gift after gift. It is all there, if only we can see it.

What if today and this week as we approach a coming (potentially busy) holiday season, we paused? What if we noticed what is going right? We noticed that we have enough for right now. What if we remembered Our Provider who always is about wholeness, restoration, abundant life? What if we trusted that He will breathe that wholeness, enough-ness, and blessing into our future and into our very present moment?

This Thanksgiving, let’s allow gratitude to grounds us. May our giving thanks wake us up to the good alive in the here and now. May it open our eyes and stop our fast productive/more-focused lives from speeding past us before we even feel like we’ve tasted them. May we all be grateful for what is. May we trust what’s to come will be good because Our Maker is good. May we check our internal stories and reset them on the One Truth, One Love that sustains and moves and unfolds all.

May we unwrap joy this Thanksgiving as we count the blessings around and within. They are there, if only we choose to pause, consider, and see anew.

Happy thanks giving.

Extra Musings and Random Thoughts

Present Over Perfect that I mentioned above is an excellent read. I rented the audio version this week and love going through it again now with Shauna’s voice and depth of emotion. It makes me tear up on audio 🙂 This is a great read if you want something super accessible like talking with a dear friend.

Another great resource on Gratitude is Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection. This has a whole chapter (only a few pages – not overwhelming!) on how gratitude is intimately tied to experiencing joy. There is a lot of research out there backing that concept and I love this book deeply. It changed my life… and I don’t say that often. Read it!

I have been so so many concerts this year of favorite groups I can hardly believe it. This past week I got the see The Naked and Famous at Rams Head Live! First, the whole experience in Baltimore at Rams is excellent – Triple D specialty pizza place, Joe Squared, and parking garage all in short walking distance to the venue. The band was phenomenal live and I was so glad I go to go with my dad who loves TNAF to truly appreciate the sound and experience. Fun times!

Last night I got to go to The Beauty and The Beast at The Fulton Theater in Lancaster. Oh my goodness – so good!! All my childhood joys coming to life at once. 🙂 If you’re local – go. It’s a great time and the voices, costumes and sets are wonderful. Loved that mother daughter night fun. Sometimes you just have to let yourself be a big kid again.

I am truly blessed. The more I sit back and savor the realities of life like a wrote above I’m so awed. I hope this week you too can get to that space. Doesn’t mean life or the holiday will be easy and it will definitely be far from perfect since we are all human, but it is good and real and alive. Hope you enjoy Thanksgiving for all it’s goodness. Pause, smell the food, see the colors, feel the breath within and taste and see that it is good. Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

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