I have discovered what I believe to be THE most important thing we can cultivate in our lives and instill in our children–the thing that will most determine how happy they are in life:
I know, you were hoping for something more spectacular or less common. But there are shades of gratitude (or ingratitude) we might not readily recognize.
First of all, we understand that gratitude isn’t simply remembering to say “thank you” when someone is kind or giving.
It’s recognizing that we came into the world with nothing, no one owes us anything (not even God who has already given us the priceless gift of eternal life through His Son’s death) and all that we have is a gift.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in her book, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy, describes gratitude as the result of humility, and ingratitude the result of pride, because the proud in heart believes he is owed something and can, in fact, never be satisfied with what he gets.
Have you seen a spirit of ingratitude lived out? We can talk about it in a book or a blog post, but until you’ve seen its destructive power you can’t quite grasp just how important it is.
A person with a spirit of ingratitude can’t move forward, especially when trials come (and trails will come!) They become paralyzed with the thoughts of “life is so unfair” and unable to see the blessings, gifts and grace poured out to them along the way.
Conversely, a grateful spirit, when faced with trials, can focus on all he has been given, look at his trial as an opportunity to grow and learn, and though there may be grief still, he doesn’t get bogged down with a victim mentality, shaking his fist at the world, never able to get back up and move again.
He is able to say with Job, even through pain, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Of all the many things I wish to cultivate into the hearts of my children, I’m trying fervently to get this lesson across. To point them, even in the smallest of examples, to give thanks for where they are, what they have, and God’s abundant grace, and to recognize how he uses others in our lives to pour out that grace.
I believe it can make all the difference in the world to how they will respond to challenges as they grow up. It will make the difference in an overflowing heart (even in the direst of conditions) or an overwhelmed one.
May we grow them into real joy!
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18