The Gift of Gratitude
Updated: Mar 24
Is your heart weighed down with the many worries of life? Do you feel overwhelmed when you think of the heavy load of responsibilities that have landed in your hands? Learn how to lift your worries and responsibilities with the Gift of Gratitude in today's devotional. You will also find a very special gift waiting for you at the end.
Gold, red, orange and yellow leaves crunch under my feet as I walk the familiar path at the park, my heart heavy with the weight of responsibility and concern, my face wet with tears. In many different seasons of my life this nature park has been a sanctuary for me. This new season I find myself in is no exception. I come here to think and to pray as I walk. Walking clears my head and unburdens my heart. My parents are older now, and unlike years ago when we were all within 100 miles of one another, they are each a flight or a full days’ drive away in opposite directions from where I live. Sometimes the reality of their age hits me like a wave I am unprepared for, and I feel the riptide of time, fear of loss, questions on how best to care for them, and all I can’t control knocking me off balance.
This particular day as I walk and pray, I opt to roll the burden I carry onto God. 1 Peter 5:7 says,
“Cast all of your anxieties on Him for He cares for you.” (NRSV)
I decide to take God at His Word. As I name and roll my burdens onto Him, asking Him to carry what I cannot, something inside of me shifts. I take my eyes off the road and really notice the colorful array of beauty against a backdrop of brilliant blue and golden rays of sunshine interspersed with clouds. Suddenly, a deer leaps from the woods across the path in front of me brining an intake of breath as awe and wonder replace worry. Instead of feeling weight, I feel gratitude. With that gratitude comes the peace of being in the present moment.
Making my way along the path through the park, I realize that I am grateful that my parents are still alive and that they have been blessed with long and healthy lives. It dawns on me that I have taken this for granted, thinking they would just always be here. What an incredible blessing that they were not taken from me at a young age or have had to battle some debilitating diagnosis. I am grateful for their influence, love, and presence in my life. I am grateful for the familiar sound of their voice and the music of their laughter. I am grateful for the strength and courage of their wisdom, faith and example. I am grateful for their quirks and traits and all that makes them unique. I am grateful for the recent trips I have been able to make to spend time together with them, even more so in the course of a global pandemic. I am grateful for my husband’s support and understanding as well as a schedule that allows me the flexibility to travel to see them. I am grateful I am in a position to be of help and encouragement to them. And the list goes on.
As I began to audibly give thanks for all I am blessed with, the burdens I was carrying when I began this path, lift. The gift of being grateful for even the smallest things transforms my perspective and my attitude.
Philippians 4:6-8 says,
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (MSG)
As I recall this Scripture, it reminds me that worry has to do with tomorrow and gratitude is appreciating what is already here, now. A sense of contentment and joy washes over me as I consider how wealthy I really am – in health, relationships, in work, my home, the beauty I am surrounded by, and my needs being met. Even in times of crisis, uncertainty and loss, an attitude of gratitude alters my perspective from pain to thankfulness, opening the door to the present moment, ushering in sweet acceptance and comforting peace.
The daily practice of writing in a gratitude journal what I am grateful for - whether small or significant – has shaped my perspective in every area of my life for many years. The practice is not so difficult when things are going well. But when I’m having a hard day, a hard month, or a hard season, finding things to be grateful for is more challenging. It’s in those times that listing what I am thankful for makes such a big difference. I know this, and yet I have allowed other things to crowd out the benefit of focusing on and writing what I am grateful for.
Once home, I open my long-neglected journal and pick up my favorite blue pen to remember the gifts in the ordinary and routine moments of my day as well as the extraordinary and exceptional ones. In giving thanks for what I have, I find that it is enough, and all is well with my soul.
This Devotional blog is by Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching Founder and Christian Life Coach, Jen Stone-Sexton. She is currently accepting new clients. You can learn more about Jen here.
Jennifer Stone-Sexton © 2022 Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credits: Cover and Photo 1 Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
Photo 2 by Siska Vrijburg on Unsplash