How are you doing at this point in the year? Feeling excited? Overwhelmed? Thankful?…Thankful? Hadn’t given that one much thought lately. You want to truly feel thankful and model it. And yet life’s burdens seem to choke it out. Practicing thankfulness is not always easy, but it is rewarding.
The truth is, practicing thankfulness can feel elusive in the midst of many of life’s seasons. Maybe it’s a financial crisis. Or a prodigal child. Perhaps it’s simply unending questions for the tenth time today. Whatever your struggle, it can leave your heart heavy and your soul feeling emotionally exhausted and anything but thankful.
However, take heart, there are ways to be thankful, even in the midst of our burden-filled lives.
Fears and feelings may be hard to take control of, but truth is still the best way to win the battle. Here are a few thoughts that have helped me battle feelings and fears.
1) Fixing our Eyes on Him…and Staying There
When we fix our eyes on Jesus, our circumstances seem to fade into the background. Hope revisits our hearts. Thankfulness rises to the surface.
The trick is, remaining in that posture. It’s not always easy.
So often, when we look up at God, our hearts lighten for the moment, and then without realizing it, our eyes drop and so do our hearts. Once again we have to refocus our gaze, give our worries back to the Lord, and choose to be thankful.
Here are some verses to help you move from worry to thankfulness and keep your eyes fixed on Him:
2) Reading and Meditating on Truth
It’s often in busy seasons of life that thankfulness slips away. In all the rush, we forget to remember all that God is. Can you get up just 5 minutes early? Perhaps leave your Bible open for when you take a lunch break or while your toddler is throwing a fit. Many Psalms bring us right into thankfulness. Keep a list like this one ready: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Thankfulness. Meditate on the truth of who God is.
Post Scripture around your house. Read it while you are doing dishes or folding laundry. Make a verse your wallpaper on your computer or cell phone. Just get Scripture in front of your eyes to reflect on. When we fix our eyes on truth, our hearts follow.
Consider spending extra time in your Bible lesson with your kids. Dig deep. Chances are if the verses speak to your heart, they will touch theirs as well. The Holy Spirit is good like that. 🙂
Another way to keep your mind fixed on Him is through journaling. When you write out what you are thankful for, you can draw encouragement from the blessings in your life. Take a few moments in your day to write down what you are grateful for.
It may take a minute to clear away the circumstances before you in order to refocus… but before long it will become a lovely habit that will produce a thankful heart. Ponder who or what you can choose to offer thanks for. Pray for God’s perspective on difficult situations. He may open your eyes to see things in a new way.
Also, consider keeping a pen and a journal on your counter to quickly jot down God’s gifts in the little things that happen throughout your day. They are so easy to overlook or even forget by day’s end. When our minds are intentional about looking for blessings, we can see them much easier. By merely jotting them down you can ignite thankfulness in your soul.
4) Remembering Outloud
Discuss with your family blessings you are thankful for. Each night in the month of November, we share at the dinner table (at least) one thing/person we are thankful for. The goal is to focus our hearts on the many blessings in our lives. Both big and small. And the fun thing is when we start, ideas just keep flowing.
My daughter came up with a huge list one night. I love the simplicity of her list. Her bed, our cat, and daddy’s job, to name just a few. Kids can have a way of reminding us to be thankful for the small things in life.
God often exhorts us to remember. Just like the Israelites who forgot the many miracles the Lord had done for them, we too can forget the many marvelous ways God blesses us. When we take a moment to speak them out, there seems to be something powerful in our words that can change our hearts to truly be thankful.
I love the way David put it in his song of thanks,
“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that He has done, his miracles and the judgments He uttered.”
– 1 Chronicles 16:11-12
5) Teaching Thanksgiving
So often, when we teach our kids about Thanksgiving, we are reminded of the sacrifices and hardships the early Pilgrims faced for the freedoms we now share. Talk with your kids about Thanksgiving – both the holiday and the command. Here’s more information on Celebrating Thanksgiving in a Meaningful Way.
If you are graced to have an Eeyore in your house, discuss the importance of choosing to be thankful. Don’t forget – we can choose to be thankful for hardships, frustrations, and obstacles. They can be tools to point us back to our need for a Savior as well as the body of Christ.
Sometimes teaching is the best instructor for our own lives. As you teach, the Holy Spirit might whisper truths to you that will cause the thankfulness in your soul to rise too.
Another way to boost your thankful muscles is to serve. When we take our eyes off of our circumstances, step out of our lives to serve, we are the ones that are truly blessed. As the apostle Paul shared the words of Jesus in Acts 20: 35, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Find a way to serve as a family. Maybe your church already offers ways you can serve your community together – a local soup kitchen, women’s shelter, pregnancy help center, etc. There are so many ways to serve throughout the year. Choose one that speaks to the heartbeat of your family.
But…don’t make it just one more thing to add to your list of to-dos. Our schedules are already very full and we don’t need to add something else just to do. Carve out this meaningful time. Be intentional about why you are serving. Guard your attitude about it. You might be surprised how your heart changes as a result. Thankfulness just might come flooding in.
Worship music can be a great tool to inspire praise and thanksgiving. Turn on Pandora or a favorite CD and let the words and music wash over your weary soul. Raise your hands if you feel led. Sing at the top of your lungs. Let the words move you deeply.
Allow yourself special moments with your Heavenly Father. Let Him speak to you sweetly and caress you with His arms of love. Worship music is a powerful way to revive weary souls.
8) Getting Away
And finally, sometimes what we need is to get away. Not as in escape the realities of life. But just break away from our everyday routines and the deafening noise.
See if a friend can watch your kids so you can grab a couple of hours at your favorite coffee place, or sit on a rock at the lake or by the ocean. Stealing a few moments to rehearse your blessings and to regain focus can do wonders. Or, go for a walk outside. Whatever helps refresh your soul, do what you can to make it happen. And don’t feel guilty about it.
A refreshed mommy is sometimes the best gift you can give your family.
I know different seasons can be challenging for many of us. Pay attention to your heart and do what you need to do to allow thankfulness to flood your heart again. I’m praying for you!
What are some ways you revive your weary soul? I’d love to hear – leave a comment below.