Cultivating a Grateful Heart
Our blog post today comes from DWITW Team Member Daisy Dronen. Daisy shares with us how the Lord used this Thanksgiving season to train her in gratefulness and heal some painful wounds. Daisy challenges us to extend our practice of gratefulness from November into December and to welcome Jesus with thankful hearts, no matter what the season.
Reflecting on our past experiences can be painful, hard, and sometimes unpredictable. This thanksgiving season, I found that this practice is more essential than we think. Normally, when I find myself reflecting on my past, I feel all the feelings again. I feel the rejection, the hurt, and the feelings of inadequacy that come rushing back. Sometimes, I just pause and neglect to examine the feelings instead of inviting the Lord into them with me. This Thanksgiving, my time of reflection brought along all of those feelings, but I found that there was something else waiting to be examined with them- my gratefulness.
In the book of James, we find a challenge to count our trials pure joy. This verse has been on repeat in my head recently, and I am so glad. It has led me to reflect on my past experiences through different-colored lenses. We all have life experiences, encounters and interactions that give color and flavor to our present. We have come out stronger on the other side of our trials, yet sometimes, we hold these past experiences tightly and carry shame heavily because of them. This is where I found myself, tight-fisted with my past and heavy laden with shame.
I was so overwhelmed by the emotions that I could not see the good that had come with them. I was constantly rehashing what was done to me, how hurt I was by it, and how much I missed out on. Thankfully, this time, as I invited the Lord in, He gently reminded me that I had been ignoring gratefulness. I realized I had some personal work to do.
I had been looking at my experiences as troubles that had happened to me and because of them I had been robbed of experiences that should rightfully be mine. But then, He reminded me: "...You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:3-4. So, I prayed out loud, "Lord forgive me and I forgive them." Then, I put action to my prayers and to my discoveries. I wrote a letter of gratitude and mailed it. I thanked my parents for all that they have invested in me, I thanked them for walking humbly with their God (because now I could do the same), and I thanked them for inspiring in me a love for the Word of God that now sustains me. I tell you now with tears in my eyes how liberating this was. I could leave the past behind and truly appreciate the people that loved me then and love me now. I see the fruit of those experiences now; how they produced perseverance, preparing me for life now so that I could in fact be complete in Him.
As we continue into this season of celebrating with family, let's cultivate a grateful heart so that our encounters with our family will leave a heavenly impression; a gentle one, seasoned with salt. I would like to challenge myself and you to not put down the practice of thanksgiving now that November is over, but instead continue to cultivate a grateful heart in December, too. Do this with expectation and anticipation because our King is good and gives us only good gifts. "Let us enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise-...because He is good and His Love endures forever." So let's open our hands and invite Him in to the deep and hard parts of our hearts, no matter what the season.
"In gratefulness come to Him with open hands, so that our past
experiences can become beacons of light and hope."