Gratitude. What a nuanced word. As we approach the holiday season, I think it becomes easier to remember gratitude: the smells of fall, pumpkin everything, family and friends gathering together, making travel plans. For me anyway, thankfulness tends to naturally rise up in my heart for those blessings that become a little more obvious during this season. But I do believe that gratitude is a nuanced word, meaning there are more levels to it than meets the eye. It’s easy to express gratitude when the season is intentionally reminding me to do so! And it’s easy to express it when the blessings are obvious. But what about a lifestyle of gratitude that arises from simply recognizing the blessings all around us?
With the frenetic pace at which I often find my life running, it’s painfully easy for gratitude to slip my mind. I experience the blessing and take it in stride while often forgetting to cherish it and express thankfulness. I think this is where the phrase “practicing thankfulness” found its roots. I’m sad to say that it’s not often a natural response to be thankful but rather something we must practice. And I’m not just talking about the big blessings—though we certainly need to be grateful for those!—I’m talking about the blessings that slip by unnoticed yet have the profound ability to impact a moment.
On a superficial level, these simple blessings are the morning sun shining in the window, a really good cup of coffee, an unexpected text from an old friend, a walk in the fresh fall air, or a smile from a stranger. They’re small. They could slip by unnoticed. But when they’re recognized, they bring the purest form of joy into a moment.
I was reading in the Psalms the other day, and Psalm 30:11 stood out to me:
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy” (NLT).
This verse simply sings of answered prayers, faithfulness, and blessings. I began to pray, “Lord, let that be my prayer! Would you move in my life and turn my mourning into joyful dancing—would you clothe me with joy!” As I sought the Lord, I felt the prayer of my heart begin to shift from “turn my mourning into joyful dancing” to “open my eyes to see the places of my life that I can shed my clothes of mourning and put on clothes of joy.” When I’m not intentionally shifting my focus to gratitude for the unexpected blessings, I seem to remain laser-focused on my “clothes of mourning.”
My friends, as we jump into a full season of family, friends, and gratitude, let’s remind each other to pause on the simple blessings—the sweet kisses blown from the Father to us. As we live to intentionally recognize the simple blessings, gratitude becomes more than just a season, it becomes a way of life.