This was eye-opening for me. In the throes of a deep conversation with a dear friend, I was asked by him to stop and be thankful. To spend the rest of the conversation thinking about things that we could be grateful for…instead of things that we struggle with…
Can I tell you…it wasn’t easy.
And I was surprised. No I was shocked.
For a few moments I could think of nothing positive to say.
Not. One. Thing.
My eyes welled up with tears, not because I was frustrated with the conversation but because I had allowed myself to reach such a point that I could only see the struggle, only feel the fear, only know the challenges.
What had happened to me? How had I gone so terribly astray in my thinking.
Ironically, that very day I had responded to someone’s question about how to be thankful…how could I possibly have given someone else advice when I couldn’t figure out how to be thankful myself.
So I sat on the sofa staring at the floor wondering what I could possibly say. Thankfully he jumped in and shared…just talked one thing after another…nothing earth-shattering, just daily stuff.
And I thought to myself, “Just start talking. One little thing.” It was like trying to change the direction of a freight train speeding forward…without stopping…just whipping that thing in reverse and going for it. I truly felt that I was wrestling to regain and turn around my thoughts and my emotions and my whole attitude and perspective. Good gravy it was hard!
I said, “Well, I’m thankful it was a beautiful day…and for devotional time with Ally that was good this morning…and that my bangs were not cut too short when I got my haircut today…:”
And then it all changed…
One step…a few words…a whole new perspective.
Fifteen minutes earlier I was frustrated, afraid, and even verging on angry. Now? Well, now I’m thankful. I’m peaceful. I’m hopeful.
All because he asked us to stop and be thankful.
In all things, give thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
It was an end the madness moment. And for me…it was more. It revealed..no, it threw a spotlight on a way of living I have tiptoed around for years.
I talk about choosing joy. I talk about being thankful. I talk about peace. But I keep having to remind myself that I can choose joy, be thankful, live peace, because I haven’t made a decision to do those things consistently for myself. It’s like I say, “Look at this possibility! Look at what we can do if we try!” But then I never really try…I mean try hard. I have spent so much time taking comfort in the possibility and haven’t experienced the lasting beauty of choosing joy, peace, and gratefulness as a lifestyle.
I realized…actually I remembered something I’ve known to be true for quite a while. The fruit of the Spirit God talks about in Galatians are already mine.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
God has ALREADY given me joy and peace and a mess of things to be thankful for! I truly need to choose to live it.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
When I’m begging for joy and peace, I wonder if God smiles gently and whispers, “Dearest, I already gave those to you. You have all you need.”
And I still request them as if I’d never received them…ever.
Sitting on that sofa, I realized it truly is a choice. I can choose to see the beauty around me I can choose to be thankful. I can choose to stop pouting and start praising. I can choose to stop trying to be in control and start trusting that God already is.
God has blessed me with all that I need to live this life joyfully, gratefully, and peacefully. He has given me the Holy Spirit and He has given me friends. And He has given me this loving friend who is willing to risk my ire to say that we can choose gratefulness in the midst of challenges.
I like it. I love it.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Let’s stop wrestling with things, and start resting in Him.
I know now that choosing to be thankful is all within my power. It isn’t easy…it can be super challenging to change the way we think, but God gives us all the strength we need to choose well.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13