The Perfect Gratitude Trifecta – Perspective, People and a Promise: Part II
Last week we talked about the vital role perspective plays in our pursuit of a grateful heart. Perspective affects whether we see a glass as half full or half empty. But perspective isn’t passive. We can shape our perspective based on what we are looking for. Fortunately, the God who gave us ears to hear and eyes to see is also the God who can help us listen and look for all we have to be grateful for.
But perspective isn’t the only thing that affects gratitude. The people in our lives affect it too. There are three different kinds of people who are a part of our gratitude journey. Let’s start with those that show us what it looks like.
None of us is an island. It stands to reason that people will be a part of the equation whatever area of our lives we are evaluating. When it comes to living a life full of gratitude, it makes perfect sense how important it is to see gratitude modeled.
I’m married to a grateful man. He often says, “If I died today, I would consider myself the luckiest man in the world to have lived the life I have.”
The beauty is that he’s been saying this for over thirty years… through thick and thin. I have seen him experience challenging life circumstances, ranging from financial difficulties to losing loved ones. Yet, I know his gratitude isn’t tied to his circumstances. Instead, his gratitude is anchored to his faith.
Do you know someone like that? Maybe you had (or have) a family member who exudes gratitude? A Sunday School teacher or neighbor? When you’re with them, their gratitude rubs off on you.
Let’s take a moment and recall those individuals. May we thank God for them and ask Him what we can learn from them.
There’s a second way that the people in our lives affect our gratitude, and it’s the ones that don’t necessarily elicit a heart of thanks within us. You know what I’m talkin’ about. Let’s keep this real. God’s word helps us navigate those, shall we say, “pickle people.”
Sometimes, depending upon who they are and what kind of negative behavior we’re dealing with, we may be called to establish boundaries.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places….” Psalm 16:6
This can be hard, and yet when God calls me to do so, inevitably, it isn’t just for my good. The boundary in the relationship is good for both parties.
Other times, we may feel called to reach out and make ourselves available to that “pickle person.” Galatians 6:2 instructs us to…
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
The folks that can be hard to be grateful for are often the way they are because of burdens they carry that we do not see.
When it comes to this second group of people, we have to be honest with our heavenly Father. “How do I deal with this person, Lord?” God cares deeply about our personal gratitude journey. He also cares about the gratitude journey of our “pickle people.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says we must…
“…test everything; hold fast to what is good.”
When we seek wisdom on how to deal with folks such as this, God will give us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. He will help us know whether the right thing to do is pull back or reach out.
The last group of people who are a part of our gratitude journey is those God has given us that we are grateful for. Not necessarily because they model gratitude. We just plain love them!
This version of Philippians Chapter 1 Verse 3 from The Voice is my favorite:
“Whenever you cross my mind, I thank my God for you and for the gift of knowing you.”
Most of us could recall at least one person for whom we are grateful.
A close friend.
The trick, of course, is taking the time to remember.
Again, push pause.
Let’s park on a tender memory (or two) of a person (or persons) that we could say, “it has been a gift to know them.”
Now that we’ve had an opportunity to remember let’s ask the Holy Spirit to prompt those memories more often. May He help us recall the beautiful people He has placed in our lives that we are grateful for.
May we also recall the single most amazing person we have to be grateful for ––Jesus Christ Himself. How many times can we look back and know He was there? He heard our prayers. He carried our pain; he gave us strength. He was the best friend we could ever ask for.
Would you pray with me?
Father, You are a God of relationships. You did not design us to do life alone. We have people in our lives, and they affect every aspect of our being. Including the role that gratitude plays in our day-to-day life.
God, we thank You for the people you’ve placed in our lives that show us what it looks like to be grateful. Especially when it’s clear their gratitude isn’t anchored in something as fickle as their circumstances but instead anchored in You. Thank you that they show us what that looks like.
Lord, we thank you for Your wisdom in dealing with the folks in our lives that create the opposite effect. For whatever reason, time spent with them doesn’t elicit gratitude in us. Lord, do a work in us. Forgive us if there is an error on our part. Help us view them with compassion and mercy. At the same time, Lord, give us wisdom if boundaries are needed in the relationship.
Finally, Lord, we thank you for the people in our lives for whom it is simply a gift to know them. God, You are the giver of all good gifts, including the people you surround us with. Thank you.
In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.”
[Next week, I’ll be stepping away so I can relish time with the fam. We’ll wrap this up the following week. It will be the perfect transition from the month of gratitude to the month that celebrates Christ’s coming. Get ready to learn about the importance of remembering “the promise.”]