Last fall I set out to develop a deeper sense of gratitude towards God and towards life itself. Although I found myself feeling thankful in general, I noticed that in times of stress, frustration, or discouragement, giving thanks was definitely not my first response. The death of my friend and the ensuing devastation in my relationship with God came just days after my decision to pursue gratitude. Needless to say, I didn't get particularly far in this pursuit. I did, however, happen upon an amazing book called Radical Gratitude by Ellen Vaughn. As a testament to this book's virtue, it is one of only a handful of books I have actually read from start to finish in the last 5 years. I found it inspiring and hope-filled but also deeply challenging. She tells the true stories of POWs, 9/11 survivors, political captives, concentration camp survivors, and many others—all of whom have learned what it means to be grateful in the midst of excruciating circumstances. This book was a light to me in those early weeks after my friend's death, and I have been left with such a desire to be a person of gratitude, to live a life that breathes thankfulness regardless of what is happening around and within me. I certainly have a ways to go, and I hope to begin a more deliberate pursuit of this in the coming months. For now, I am taking one small step. As I have seen other bloggers do, I am starting Thankful Thursdays here on Growing Is Beautiful where each week I will post a list of the things I am thankful for. Here and now, I am choosing to be grateful. Will you join me?
*I am thankful for the courage to be authentic in relationships. It is rarely easy and often terrifying, but I find my greatest joy in the relationships where I have been my most authentic self.
*I am thankful for my community group—the way you love and accept me but always push me to be better. Your presence in my life has allowed God to refine and transform me into the woman He created me to be.
*I am thankful for God's faithfulness to me, His never-wavering love that continues to pursue me no matter how many times I slam the door in His face.
*I am thankful for Spring. This visible demonstration of new life coming after the bitterness of winter reminds me of hope, of God's faithfulness, of second chances and new beginnings.
*I am thankful that for the first time in my life, I have faced a period of brokenness and devastation without losing hope. How grateful I am for this!
*And lest you think I am all seriousness and deep thoughts, I am also thankful for chai tea lattes—if happiness did come in a cup, I am positive it would be a cup of chai shared with good friends.
What are you thankful for today?