Joan C. Webb and I have joked that we must have come from the same blueprint. We both care deeply about making intentional choices. In this special Thanksgiving UPGRADE, she encourages "on-purpose" thankfulness.
"When a holiday like Thanksgiving rolls around do you ever ruminate too much?
Over what you did or didn’t do at the last family get-together?
Or how your house or cooking skills don’t measure up?
Or how others don’t help like they should?
"Perhaps different concerns bother you when you lay your head on your pillow at night," Joan says. "Like others (myself included) maybe you’d like to hush your racing mind and relax."
Uh huh. Describes me (Dawn) perfectly.
Joan continues . . .
As a child I memorized Philippians 4:6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
It seemed like such a wise way to live. I liked it.
Yet, I never dreamed how challenging it would be to pray, ask, thank, and experience peace. All while trying to manage relationships, hormones, major life decisions, job and financial challenges, health issues and inevitable disappointment.
What was Paul really saying to the people in the Philippian church (and you and me) in these verses?
After studying the original Greek, I think he’s encouraging us to—when we’re feeling annoyed and anxious about what happened yesterday or will happen tomorrow:
- Take full advantage of the grace-gift of prayer, available to us because of Christ’s rescuing work on the cross.
- Admit both unpleasant personal and corporate needs to God.
- Pause and slow down, offering the bold combination of requesting and gratitude as an act of worship.
- Do this intentionally with active, on-purpose thanksgiving.
But sometimes we wonder how to do this?
Here’s a practical habit to cultivate: Develop a Gratitude Journal.
1. Buy a simple spiral notebook.
Start slow—with one journal entry per week. You can expand to additional days later.
2. Name one thing you did recently that you’re thankful for.
This is a vital step in your gratitude process, yet you might find it the most challenging. It is for many.
We ask God to help us grow to be more like Christ; to be healthier emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically. Then, when there is evidence that God is working in us and we’re responding in obedience, we shrink from acknowledging the progress for fear that we’ll become too self-focused. Yet we negate a part of ourselves and who God is when we refuse to thank Him for what He’s doing in us.
You might write something like:
- “I acknowledge that I’ve been working hard with preparations and need to rest. Thanks that I took time for a nap this weekend.”
- Or “I recognize that I finished this report early. I’m grateful.”
- Or “Thank you that I was honest with my spouse about my thoughts/feelings without yelling.” (Maybe for you, it was “without withdrawing,” because that—not yelling—is your normal non-helpful style.)
3. Then jot down one thing that someone else did that you’re grateful for.
This will be enlightening if you’re used to ruminating on how your boss, sister, spouse, parent disappoints or irritates you.
4. Last, list five things for which you’re grateful.
Your friend’s encouraging text. Last night’s rainbow. The new supplement you’ve started. That you had a headache-free day.
Will you exercise these intentional gratitude steps during this holiday season 2015? Maybe you’ll want to keep it beside your nightstand. Watch for signs of an increased sense of well-being and peace. And then thank God for that, as well.
Joan C. Webb is a speaker and author who has written thirteen books including The Relief of Imperfection: For Women Who Try Too Hard to Make It Just Right, The Intentional Woman and a devotion titled, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with writers and communicators, Joan helps set people free to become who they were designed to be and from what holds them back. For more information about her books, services and teaching, visit www.joancwebb.com
Graphic adapted, young woman with book, Pixabay.