GRATEFULNESS and THANKFULNESS are words that basically have the same meaning. In our English language, these words cannot always wholly express how we feel, but we can express gratefulness in many other ways that do not include words. We can express an attitude of being grateful in spite of the circumstances we are in. Cultivating a spirit or attitude of gratefulness is not always a natural persuasion. Cultivating is a verb. Therefore, cultivating an attitude of being thankful and grateful is an action. We CHOOSE to be grateful even if our circumstances are not of our choosing. Nancy Leigh DeMoss in her book Choosing Gratitude says:
“Cultivating a thankful heart is a safeguard against becoming bitter, prickly, and sour.” – Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Do you love that quote? Think about it! Do you know grumblers, complainers, blamers, self-pitiers? Are you one of those people? How you know if you are one of those, is how you respond to the most challenging situations. With a spirit of asking ourselves these questions:
- How can I learn from this? Or
- How can I help this extremely difficult person (and remain sane and loving)? or
- How can I find the silver lining in all of this chaos?
Acknowledging how we answer these types of questions and how we respond to certain situations can make us self-aware as to the areas where we are strong because we are able to respond with grace, patience and consideration FIRST or we respond with anger, frustration, hurt or take offense. Our decision in how we respond is largely up to us. Holocaust survivor and neurosurgeon, Viktor Frankl shared in one of his most popularly repeated quotes:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
We can choose how we will respond, but so often we respond out of an emotional gut feeling and get a foot stuck in our mouth in the meantime! Famous author, Stephen Covey takes Frankl’s quote just a bit farther when he stated:
“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.” – Stephen Covey
If that isn’t the truth! We ARE human and we are wired with different personalities, quirks and life experiences that make our whole being. As adults, we get to CHOOSE how we will respond to life’s setbacks, challenges, regrets and hurdles.
The book of Proverbs informs us that the countenance shows the character of a person. Anger, bitterness, resentment, self-pity and sadness can be seen in one’s countenance and may reveal an inward focused, self-absorbed individual just as the countenance of a grateful person can be seen as one who, in spite of setbacks and challenges, can claim an attitude of gratitude.
A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
My dear friends, as we celebrate this wonderful gift of having a day to be thankful, my hope is that we are unified in choosing to have a cheerful face–one that shines because we have wisely chosen to be Thankful for all the blessings in our lives. We have SO much to be thankful for and may our countenances SHARE with our friends and families this truth. God bless and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!