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Gratitude Cultivates Joy by Darlena Drake Fields

I'm purposely taking a break from my blogging about shame today, to honor the Fall holiday that is upon us. Thanksgiving!!! I for one love it! Not just because it gives me a legal right to eat and drink all-things-pumpkin. And I do go pumpkin crazy!

l love it because it's the time of the year that I am intentional about letting family, friends, folks that support our ministry and others in my life know how grateful I am for them.

I have a high value for expressing gratitude. I was raised that way. My Texas momma taught me to always give "Thank You" cards. Maybe it's a Texas thing? But, anyway...

I'm that person that still sends handwritten thank you notes, which almost seems to be an obsolete practice nowadays. And I am also that mom that makes sure my kids hand write thank you's, when the occasion calls for it, even when they're not so happy about it.

I don't know about you, but when I receive a special thank you (not necessarily handwritten), it motivates me to keep doing things for them, energizes me to do what I did better and even more creatively. But, mainly it just makes me feel real special.

One of the coolest feelings on the planet is to feel special, because what you did was noticed by the people that you love the most!

I am also very intentional about thanking people throughout the day that help me, serve me, wait on me, ring me up, bag my groceries, let me go first at the stop sign or whatever act of kindness or service it may be. It really does something for a person to feel appreciated.

  • It gives us a sense of significance for what we do.

  • It causes us to feel seen and known -- being recognized for who we are.

  • It gives us meaning and purpose to our lives to feel appreciated -- making us feel human.

Expressing gratitude can be a very powerful practice!

Of course, gratitude is not just about thanking people, it's about being grateful for our lives and grateful for where we live, where we work, where we go to school, where we worship.

And thankful for what we have, for what we get to do and who we get to do life with...and on and on.

Even more so, it's about feeling obliged to live in a country where we have the freedom to do and have all these things.

And most important of all, as Believers, being delighted that we have a Creator that we get to know and experience, and that loves us and fellowships with us!

Our family like many others I'm sure, practices going around the table telling what we are thankful for. It's a moment that usually ends up causing emotions to bubble up in the form of tears or that awkward trembling voice that's trying to choke back tears.

I find this dynamic very interesting -- how sharing gratitude brings up emotion for so many people. And because many people are afraid of emotion, they either avoid or just don't practice expressing gratitude.

I believe this actually proves the power of gratitude! Did I just form a theory?

I was motivated to write about gratitude, not just because it's Thanksgiving and traditionally the season to be thankful. But, because it feels to me like the practice of expressing gratitude is becoming a lost art, so to speak.

For starters, I don't get many thank you's anymore. Isn't that sad? The younger generation doesn't seem to value the practice of sending thank you's for wedding gifts or baby shower gifts. Maybe because they don't use pen and paper anymore. Or they think I should just know that they are thankful. Or maybe they believe that they deserve the gift, so why say thank you for something you were entitled to? I'm not sure what the reason is, but it's sure got my panties in a wad!

The card thing may seem trivial to some of you, but for someone who values being thanked and showing thanks, it's a big deal.

What truly is a big deal though, is how focused our society is on what we don't have and who we are not.

If it's not that, it's complaining about the way things are or were or how they got that way.

It feels like the trending culture swings between NEVER ENOUGH and TOO MUCH, leaving this great divide in between for whoever doesn't want to polarize to fall into.

It's very concerning to watch the hustle to become famous. And on the flip-side, bash the successful folks that achieve celebrity status with a "Who do you think you are?" attitude. Am I making any sense?

It seems it has become shameful to live an ordinary life. And if you become a superstar, then you become the target of envy and jealousy.

It's not enough to be grateful for what we have, who we are or where we come from anymore.

It seems the focus of the modern world has become about having more, more, more and wanting to be them, them, them!

I am pretty sure, thanks to Social Media, we have more people with celebrity status than any other time in history.

However, at the same time, there seems to be more unhappiness, dissatisfaction, hopelessness, despair and all-out depression, like we've never known.

It's seems we've completely lost our value for "normal" and "ordinary." Anyone who is normal is now boring. Even worse, an ordinary life is now meaningless.

These types of values or lack of, are what fuels dehumanization and sears consciences.

The consequences of which, are mindless killings and sex slavery. And other such things that us white-collar, church-going folks would rather just not talk about.

I believe one of the root causes for the oppressed, self-centered, social media addicted culture we've created is that we've let gratitude become some old fashion practice that's a thing of the past. Kinda like thank you cards.

And consequently, we've lost our joy along with it.

In explaining all this, I've come to the main point I'm wanting to make (drum roll, please) --


Or to put in the words of Madam Blueberry's song from Veggie Tales, " A thankful heart is a happy heart. Be glad for what you have, it's an easy way to start."

Maybe this Thanksgiving we can start a movement of gratitude to help heal society of what plagues it.

We can start by practicing it. By writing it. By speaking it. And most of all, by sharing it.

So, have the courage this week to tell the people you love that you appreciate them, even if it brings tears to your eyes.

Have the humility to tell the Lord you're thankful for what you have, even if brings conviction.

Both joy and gratitude are spiritual practices that are bound to a belief in human connectedness and a power greater than ourselves.

Author and spiritual leader, Marianne Williamson says, "Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."

Genuine, heartfelt gratitude moves the heart of God and transforms mindsets.

So make the world a better place this Thanksgiving by practicing true gratitude and spreading real joy.

You never know, you could be the spark that starts a flame...and changes the world with one humble act of courage.

Happy Thanksgiving from!

We are grateful for you!!!



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