by Karen Harmon
Ah, November, the month of Thanksgiving. In full disclosure, there have been times when gratefulness has not come easily for me. Comparison, jealousy, unhealthy striving, bad decisions, and unexpected curveballs in life were drowning me, and an attitude of gratitude was the last thing on my mind. If you’re like me, you too have experienced seasons where it was difficult to find anything to be joyful about much less be thankful for; but it’s vital for our physical, mental, and spiritual health to navigate these difficulties well. SO…what are some ways we can navigate through these hard seasons and find some gratitude along the way?
First, remember that you don’t always have to be happy to be thankful. Joy and sorry, weeping and rejoicing CAN coexist. Successfully navigating these extremes of life requires us to maintain a solid foundation of gratitude…not in what we have, but in what Jesus Christ did. Despite the sorrow that life can throw our way, remembering what Jesus did on that cross for us and truly understanding the enormity of His sacrificial love, centers us and gives us something we can always be grateful for. He is steadfast and faithful, holding us, loving us, guiding us, and comforting us. He is Someone we can always be grateful for. Keeping a “gratitude” section in my journal and getting in His presence through worshipping, praying, and reading the Bible, remind me of my gratitude for Him. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1
Second, find ways to serve. Serving others can spark gratitude in our own lives. Sending a thoughtful text, planning a dinner with a friend, serving at your church or in your community, or taking a meal to an exhausted new mom…are all things that can help us see things with fresh eyes. In your marriage, find ways you can serve your spouse, not out of obligation but out of love. Making him a simple cup of coffee or planning a special dinner will go a long way in helping you be grateful for him again. Serving others gets the focus off ourselves and ignites gratitude.
“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:12
Third, change your scenery. If work or home is feeling mundane and ungratefulness creeps in, change your scenery. Head to a coffee shop to work or sit outside during your lunch break. If you’re exhausted, carve out a pocket of time for yourself to do something that brings you joy. If you’re ungrateful for your home, take a few hours to declutter and clean. Changing our scenery ushers in fresh motivation and creativity and sparks gratitude.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.” Psalm 28:7
Lastly, do things that refresh you with people that replenish you. Set boundaries for your mental and physical health. Exhaustion is ripe ground for an ungrateful heart. Learn to say the right “no” to make room for the right “yes.” One thing I’ve been working on lately is spending less time on social media and more time with close friends in real life. Social media is a wonderful tool, but I find that when I spend too much time on it, comparison, jealousy, and anxiety set in much more easily. Learning to put healthy boundaries on our time and our thoughts helps us live with a heart of gratitude.
“Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:6-8
Much of life is adventuring through the ever-changing seasons of joy and sorrow, weeping and rejoicing. When we remember to thank God for even the little things, it keeps our hearts attuned with His heart, which helps us fearlessly navigate the ups and downs of life with greater peace.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:16-18
Karen Harmon is a wife, homeschool mom, physical therapist, business owner, speaker, and writer who also serves her local church on the worship team, as a leader over several small groups, and in the media department doing on-camera work and voice overs. She owns Function360 which provides specialized physical rehabilitation and wellness consultations for a variety of patients; has spoken at conferences and seminars discussing anything from leadership to motherhood to ministry; and occasionally writes at www.karenharmon360.com. With transparency and humor, Karen loves to encourage and empower women to passionately pursue Jesus and their God-given dreams and callings through all their many roles.