By Julie Czochara
Branch Executive Director, YMCA at Gothenburg Health
“All my words fall short. I’ve got nothing new. How could I express all my gratitude?”
This is the first line in a song by Brandon Lake called, you guessed it, “GRATITUDE!”
I have been thinking and praying over the last few days about what to write. As I was sitting in my recliner looking at my surroundings as I do most mornings, I said, “Thank you, Lord!” As I reflected on this, I came to an understanding of myself that I say this every morning in a kind of matter-of-fact attitude. So I have a question, have we lost the true expression of gratitude?
It seems that we have become so focused on what we want and what we don’t have that we forget to be grateful for the things that we do have. Please don’t judge, this is not always the case. But if I want to be honest (believe me I took a hard look at myself) I spend more time stressing about what I don’t have and how I am going to manage than being grateful for what I have been blessed with.
Each year, our Gothenburg YMCA hosts a Thankful Run the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Instead of numbers on their bibs, participants write what they are thankful for. To my surprise, most of the runners wrote something funny or sarcastic on their bibs. That’s not bad, it just made me realize that we tend to joke more than we are really grateful. Is that because life is hard and we don’t want to face a reality, or is it because we feel we are entitled to more than what we have? I believe that each one of us would have a different answer to that question. Then, I would pose another question. How can I be grateful in the midst of a tragedy when all I can focus on is the loss, the grief or the pain?
You see, I have found that being grateful holds a lot more weight than we give it credit for. I read an article that said: One healthy, powerful, and free strategy to rise from a temporary emotional state is to practice gratitude.
Gratitude turns what little you have into abundance.
Gratitude is so much more than saying thank you.
Gratitude changes your perspective of the world.
Have we become so self-focused that being grateful seems almost like a thing of the past? When we are happy and things are going well, do we still consider being grateful? When things are not going our way or we experience hardship or tragedy, what is our reaction? I have celebrated many times with pity parties, and it never really got me very far.
So today, I challenge you to develop an attitude of gratitude. It truly is not a thing of the past. It is an amazing gift that we all have inside of us!
Let me conclude with this. When you are having a mountain top experience. When you are overjoyed, happy, and things are going well, be grateful and find refreshment for your soul. But know that the mountain top experience will be followed by the valley. Don’t think this is not fair because it is in those valleys that we learn the most. It is in the valleys that we cry out for help and that peace that surpasses all understanding floods over us….. and that, my friends, is what I am most grateful for!
Here is the link for the Brandon Lake song Gratitude. Give it a listen sometime. It is amazing.