Home Community Voices Let’s Start With A Grateful Heart

Let’s Start With A Grateful Heart

I’ve been stuck on gratitude this week. For the past several years I’ve written in a moleskin journal (almost) every day, filling a few with prayers, poems, letters, and a miscellaneous collection of words. A couple of journals back I’d started the practice of writing down my gratitude.

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What I’ve found: A moment spent in a state of gratitude changes the game.

Before it became a delight, “Gratitude journals” were being talked about among some of my friends and mentors. Although I wrote nearly every day, I hadn’t had much practice writing out my gratitude. It wasn’t until I crossed paths with the mother of a friend from high school who was in the midst of a grieving season.

She shared with me that she too journaled every day. I learned she would write all the things that weighed heavy on her heart, filling up more than one page. She’d express all that she carried, unloading words to try and lighten the weight. One day, her therapist suggested that she start her journaling with gratitude before diving into the heavier stuff.

It surprised me to hear that the result of her journaling significantly shifted when she shifted her mindset. Shifting is different than “sweeping it under the rug” or “shrugging it off”. A shift in our mindset simply takes our perspective and rearranges what exists.

When suffering exists, gratitude exists too. There is always something to be grateful for, likewise, there is always something or someone suffering.

Exercising gratitude takes practice. Once gratitude took priority over the suffering in the grieving mother’s journal, her paragraphs of what was weighing her down became much lighter.

I too noticed a lightness in my life when I started being more intentional with gratitude.

Gratitude is easy when it’s simply giving a “thank you” in response to receiving. “Gratitude is the attitude” is easy to say and is currently trending. I’m wondering about what you do or say outside of your “thank yous”.  What does gratitude mean to you?

“Thank you” can sometimes feel as surface level as saying bless you after a sneeze. You know it’s fitting for the moment but not entirely sure of its meaning.

From what I’ve gathered through experience and observation, gratitude is the expression of feeling grateful; A heartfelt response caused by a person, place, or thing. Gratitude starts at the heart and manifests itself in different ways. Some are thankful, generous, and more kind than others. I believe this behavior starts with the model that Jesus led. If we build our life living like Jesus, Jesus leads us to a life with a grateful heart.

A grateful heart is made up of a deep appreciation for who we are, where we come from, and what we have. This may not come naturally because life isn’t kittens and rainbows every day. Life can be hard. Hard circumstances have a tendency to harden the heart.

A hardened heart hinders gratitude from flowing freely.

You’d think Jesus would have been a heart surgeon and not a carpenter. The way He gets inside our hearts, transforming us and all. Throughout scripture, there are talks about how well Jesus knows our heart and its state. How did He figure that out without seeing an X-ray first?

Jesus, the son of God, is related to the lead designer behind the inner workings of our hearts. The guy knows the trade of heart work and it’s through His blood that He can rescue ours.

Just as we need to exercise our body to keep our hearts physically healthy, we need to keep our hearts healthy spiritually. When we practice praising things that are good, worthy, and lovely (Philippians 4:8), we open up an opportunity for gratitude to share space with our pain.

This exercise can start with 3 things and grow as you realize that there is much more than you may think to be grateful for.

Here is an example of a gratitude list I recently made;

  • Birds chirping in the morning – Waking up with the sunrise – Walking the dogs – Breathing – Hot coffee – Stretching – Writing – My job – My home – Home cooked dinner  – My neighborhood – My car – My daughter – Family – Good health

My challenge for you this week is to note what you are grateful for on a napkin, scrap piece of paper, or in a “New Note” on your phone. Simply begin writing out single words, phrases, or names to get your brain jogging. Don’t think too hard, and allow whatever comes to mind to flow freely. Keep on keeping that gratitude growing.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

1 Peter 1:6-7

Local Pulse Staff Writer & Holy Moments Columnist, Makenna Curtis