Have you ever had a moment where you forgot how good things have been for you? Sometimes we get distracted when things don’t go as we planned or by our timeline so we only focus on the change we didn’t plan for. Instead of focusing on all of the things that have gone right, we focus on what’s not working well right now.
That was me all of 2022.
I had a year filled with blessings but instead of walking in my blessings, I pouted the entire year because life wasn’t going how I planned it. I was walking in the season of some of the biggest blessings of my life but I couldn’t get over the fact that the timeline was out of order. As a result, my faith was truly being called into question.
In 2022, I got married, got pregnant, started a new career, and had a baby. What reason did I have to be upset and borderline ungrateful? I was caught up on the fact that I wasn’t ready to be a mom yet. Especially after only being married for two months. The timeline did not make sense to me because it wasn’t what I planned. We had planned for kids about two years into marriage. And what’s the saying, “tell God your plans if you want a laugh” or something like that? I had a blessing growing inside of me and an amazing husband. But I couldn’t get past the fact that this wasn’t the timeline I envisioned.
I refuse to walk into 2023 with that same negative energy. I am fully aware that my timeline is not the timeline that God has for my life and His timeline is going to be even better than anything I think I could plan. I want to be more gracious in this new year. Gratitude means to pause and reflect on the positive in your life and around you and on appreciating all that you have and what you may have taken for granted.
I took a lot for granted last year and to prevent a repeat of last year, here are 5 ways I am practicing gratefulness in 2023.
In order to know how far you’ve come or what has worked well, you need periods of reflection. We need moments of reflection to think about situations and emotions and to be able to process all that has transpired. In these moments of reflection, you’re required to pause or move slower than normal. This gives you time to think about the bigger picture and not just the small pieces that may have caused you inconvenience. During this time you may be able to see why things happened the way they did or didn’t, and you’re able to focus on only the positivity in your circumstances.
I found it easier to reflect when I am journaling or having quiet time. If you need a guided reflection period, there are journals and even planners that have reflection questions or prompts to help you get your thoughts flowing. I enjoy using my daily planner for reflection because it’s convenient since I am already using it and it includes reflection spaces and prompts for me to use to get my thoughts out. If you don’t want to purchase a guided journal, you can simply look around your space or think about things you’re grateful for and reflect on them.
During your reflection period, you can use this time to be thankful and appreciative of where you are, what you have, and who you are. A gratitude journal is another instrument you can use while reflecting. You can use a gratitude journal to thank God for keeping you and blessing you because without him, where would you be?
Prayer is how we communicate and have a relationship with God. It’s how we thank Him and express our gratitude for all He has done. I’ve always struggled with prayer because I used to think that I had to have this well-thought-out and intricate prayer in order to speak to God. But I learned that is not the case.
I found that writing my prayers work the best for me. It helps me to organize my thoughts and take my time so I can really connect with God. I keep a prayer journal for my quiet time with God. When I pray I always try to start and end with thanksgiving and gratitude.
If you haven’t noticed a trend yet, you probably will now. Spending time with God is imperative for living a life filled with gratitude. Spending time with God means spending time reading and reflecting on the word. I love using the Bible app to find devotions on any topic that may be troubling me or areas where I want to grow stronger. At the beginning of the year, I completed a devotion called Living Changed In The New Year and it was right on time. It covered gratitude and how important it is to be gracious. I was able to reflect on a lot from that devotion and take away some great points.
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I said all of that to say this: when you spend time reading the word, you are spending time reading God’s promises. What a lovely reminder to be grateful. A reminder that no matter what you have done, God still keeps his promises and keeps blessing us, in spite of us.
Charity & Service
What better way to show gratitude than by actually giving back? When you see how much you have in abundance or that you’ve been blessed with, why not share your blessings with someone else? This year I want to challenge myself to give more. I’ve received a lot and I want to share my blessings.
As I go into this year, I have to remind myself that service and charity don’t have to be hard or planned. It can be as simple as giving my time, purging my closet and donating those items, or participating in a blood drive. I believe this is the most actionable way to show gratitude because you’re operating from a place of privilege. You recognize that you have more than someone else or your circumstances are better than most so you choose to help those less fortunate. What better way to say thank you than by helping someone else?
We’ve talked about many different actions we can take to show gratitude but I’ve saved the most simple action for last. That is simply telling God “Thank You”. I want to challenge myself this year to give God more credit and praise. When I open my eyes in the morning the first thing I want to do is say thank you.
I want my “thank you’s” to outnumber my asks. I want to spend the year making sure that I never take the credit away from God. I feel like it’s so easy to say thank you when you’ve been on the mountain and everything is working in your favor. I want to get in the habit of making sure I say thank you even when it’s hard. I want everyone to know that everything I have, I’ve touched, and I’ve seen is all credited to God. Often times it’s easy to attribute our successes and high moments to our hard work and we can be slow to highlight how we truly got where we are. God did it. And for that, I’m saying thank you.
As we close this post, I pray that God shows you how good it can get and that you remember to always give him the praise even if he doesn’t.