Gratitude and thankfulness seem to be be buzz words on social media these days. It’s beautiful to see the hearts of many talk about their families, jobs and joys with a heart of thanksgiving.
Those that have read Ann Voskamp’s book have started journals, penning thousands of blessings, long taken for granted.
Daily, I see a list of thankful confessions on Facebook.
All good, all beautiful, all true.
When we find these things, we’re told we should speak them, think on them. Phil. 4:8.
My own journey toward gratitude started several years ago.
Truth be told, it was born out of fierce discontent. Anger. Frustration.
I’d been a good little churchy girl since the days I was barely 3 feet and had the Annie curly perm to match.
Over the years, I’d grown in my faith, walked through many trials, valleys deep.
There had been maturity, but I still had FAR to go.
And oh, I still do.
Prior to my gratitude revelation, I’d considered myself a grateful person.
But inside, I writhed in discontent. My internal posture was grimacing.
If I made good, righteous choices, why were there so many struggles?
Why weren’t things easier with our finances?
Within our relationships?
With what we set our hands to?
My focus was centered squarely on me, what I was doing or doing wrong… wanting to fix it.
So, I could walk in this abundance promised to me. And… it would get “easier.”
The answer I received to my waving first in the air was simple.
Start with this: gratitude.
To study, practice and live a life out of that place.
Not the answer I wanted to hear.
But precisely what I needed.
So, I sought it out. Hunted after gratitude.
Over the last few years, I’ve asked for continued revelation
to be shown where in my life I speak gratitude with my lips,
but it isn’t born from my heart.
Recently, I felt the Lord impress upon my heart another word to ponder: Manna.
For some, a familiar word, for others unknown.
Manna was literally bread from heaven, delivered daily to the Israelites while they wandered in the in-between season.
You know that season, we all do.
The one where we’ve left the bondage of where we DIDN’T want to be… but haven’t arrived yet at the place we’re dreaming of.
While they wandered, they started grumbling and complaining about the “lack” they felt.
From their perspective, they were God’s chosen people, and He wasn’t coming through for them, on their timetable. In the way they wanted.
Sounds pretty familiar in my own life.
So, God opened heaven and fed them. Rain of food. Rain of provision.
But the instruction was simple – gather what you need for you and yours for TODAY. The exception was made on the weekend, to gather enough for the Sabbath.
The extra was to be discarded.
There’s a lot more to this story in Exodus 16.
As for me, there’s a lot more there too. Through the illustration of Manna, I’ve discovered how often I grumble to myself about the provision God has offered.
How He’s offered it.
What He’s asked me to do with it.
I’d read that Bible story and heard it all through my “Annie” years, but now, as an adult, I failed to see how much I’ve become like the whining Israelites.
Complaining internally when the food budget doesn’t allow for us to go to out to dinner on a Friday night.
When I can’t do what I want to do, buy what I want to buy.
Even – give what I want to give.
Boo hoo. Whoa is me. SELF-PITY.
Certainly, not full of gratitude.
Gratitude isn’t based on our conditions.
True gratitude is a heart response that chooses JOY, even when our circumstances aren’t perfect.
Or even, when they are downright lousy.
Gratitude is a posture of thanksgiving, knowing all good things come from His hand. And that even when it is dark, or it feels like a long wait in our in-between season, He can be trusted. His provision IS enough. And it is right on time.
Gratitude is a choice of perspective. I can look at any given situation and choose to see lack – or plenty.
The more I study this in daily living, the more illustrations He provides. He uses the mechanisms that speak to each of us, based on how we are wired to receive.
You know me – light and lens ministers.
So, the other night, while cutting up our manna provision for dinner, I paused, put the knife down and considered the thin slice of light dividing the plate.
Every evening, about the same time, the sun passes over our neighbors rooftop at just the right angle, streams in through the second story window
landing in a narrow band on my kitchen counter. As it moves, the light stream widens, until all but gone.
While it is there, if I walk into it, squat down and peer up at it, it’s so bright it is blinding. All around it, is a sharp contrast of darkness.
I squat. I look up. I see the light. And I laugh.
Isn’t this what it is, this gratitude? This perspective? This focus we have? To CHOOSE to see the light, instead of the darkness?
To look for it, hunt after it, fix our eyes on it and watch is spread?
I grab my camera. I’ve got to move quickly, because it’s only there for a few minutes.
So, I press the shutter and move the lens.
As I do so, my internal posture shifts also, my internal lens refocusing.
And I choose to see the gift right in front of me. The manna food. The manna light.
I call for my obvious gifts, ask them to stand in the light stream.
Bathed in rays, I observe the contrast of light and shadow. Shifting my perspective to tell different stories.
To demonstrate to myself in days to come, when this lesson isn’t fresh, that my focus, my settings, my stance impacts what I see.
How I feel.
How I live.
Who I become.
What I can offer.
To be more than I’ve become. To focus on light. On gifts. On manna streams. On what is offered.
Take it freely, no grumbling. No complaint.
Oh, wandering heart. Fix your eyes. May you truly see.
Here are some of my reminders. Almost SOOC. I hope it will remind you too.
With gratitude (and hunting for more of it),