As my wife and I were coming closer to our wedding date, as a part of our engagement process, the preacher who performed our wedding ceremony would regularly share wisdom and insights for our future together. One of the powerful gems he shared was, “As you live and grow together, make it a habit to express your appreciation to one another.”
Over a decade later, I can now see the truth and benefit of his wisdom. And while I have not always lived up to it, there is a tremendous blessing in making it a habit of being thankful and appreciative; not just in marriage, but in life.
Every aspect of our lives can use more thanks and gratefulness. Habits are addictive practices that are formed over a period of time through repeated acts.
How differently would you approach life if you expressed more gratitude than frustration? A sink full of dishes really means that not only do you have a house to live in but you have had food to eat. An empty tank in your car means that you’re not walking from destination A to destination B. Having limited closet space shouldn’t be a point of aggravation, but an intersection of gratitude and servitude (give some of the clothes away!). Loud children running around simply means that you were able to birth them and there were no miscarriages or tragedies.
Quite candidly, we have shortchanged ourselves by only focusing on gratitude, thanksgiving, and appreciation when November rolls around. In many cases, we have disrespected God by saying that we’re thankful when in reality we have only focused on ourselves and our bellies.
A scripture that we quote often has a principle in it for thanksgiving. It speaks to having a habit of thanks that is undeniably strong and engaging. David writes in Psalm 34:1, “I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise.”
How can we approach life with a greater appreciation for it? How can we approach each day with a greater sense of thanks to God, people, and the circumstances that we are in? Although we can’t answer the totality of that question in one setting, we can get started by:
Being strategic. We are strategic with our relationships, education, calendars and even entertainment. Let’s schedule and be strategic with our time to be grateful and express our appreciation to God. Daily, weekly, monthly and annually, we ought to set aside time to only express gratitude.
Being structured. How can you be structured in expressing your thanks for life and living? Make a list! It has been said in many arenas of life and on multiple levels, journal your appreciation. For those that don’t journal, without feeling overwhelmed with the process, simply keep a sticky note or an electronic document of all of the blessings that you daily receive. You will be amazed at all that you can be thankful for.
Being sacrificial. Don’t just be thankful for what you like about your life. Be thankful for everything. This would include the good, the bad and the ugly. Notice what 1 Thessalonians 5:18 shares: “In everything gives thanks.” When you express gratitude in tough times, you force yourself to adopt a mind that is more like Jesus Christ than satan. Further, it forces you to begin to see situations from God’s view versus your own view.
Habits aren’t created without starting something small first.
Today, you can begin to create a new habit by doing something small, yet significant, right now. Take some time to tell God how much you appreciate Him. If you start now, it’ll be a habit in no time.
by Christopher Harris