In the summer of 2007 I walked out of my Doctor’s office sobbing. Uncontrollable sobbing and I couldn’t figure it out. Sure, I’m a sensitive guy who cries over commercials with kids and puppies in them but that’s nothing like this.
So, I’m thinking OK… in the last 120 days or so I had back surgery, prostate cancer surgery, and a stroke so I have a right to cry right? Well, that wasn’t it at all. You see I survived the back surgery; I survived the prostate cancer surgery; and I survived the stroke. What I was sobbing for was because I had survived all of those things! I had an “overwhelming feeling of gratitude” for being alive. For you see, along with the uncontrollable sobbing there was a feeling of peace that I had never felt before.
But I didn’t figure that out very easily or on my own. I stopped my pastor after a service one morning and I said “Hey John…I have these times where I have these periods of sobbing uncontrollably. What’s that all about?” He stopped, looking me straight in the eye, smiling and said…” that is a gift” and then he turned and walked away. I thought to myself “Seriously? That’s it…you tell me it’s a gift and walk away?” Boy was I frustrated, but then after a while I began to get it. It was an “overwhelming feeling of gratitude” so I began to wear that badge proudly, even going as far as signing off all my emails and letters with the words “with gratitude”.
But that’s my story…
The bigger question is…how can YOU make having An Attitude of Gratitude a New Year’s Resolution? A resolution that will bring you a feeling of ever increasing peace and comfort over the next year no matter how tough of a day, week, or month you might have. No, you don’t have to go through the medical stuff I went through, and you don’t have to sob uncontrollably either (although it’s OK if you do). All I know is, that if you do make Gratitude a part of your everyday life…it will change not only your life but the lives of people around you.
That same pastor, that said it was “a gift” and walked away…senior pastor John Smith…did a sermon on Gratitude and it touched me at so many levels I thought I would share some segments of it with you. All in the hopes that it might encourage you to have a New Year’s Resolution that you can actually follow through on. What a concept, huh?
Here are some segments of Pastor John’s recent sermon on Gratitude (used w/permission):
Where is your heart in this business of Gratitude? Think for a moment of the people who are truly happy, joy filled, optimistic, and positive people. I would think that most likely these people are also thankful, Grateful people.
- We Need to Make Gratitude a Habit.
We all have good and bad habits. We need to make the attitude of Gratitude one of our good habits. We need to practice Gratitude even in times of anxiety and frustration. Here’s an example: You find a lump and are filled with anxiety. You go in for tests, and the word comes back from the doctor that everything is OK. You are filled with Gratitude. Nothing has really changed from how everything was going few weeks ago, except for what the anxiety has taught you and… you are flooded with Gratitude that you have this gift of life.
Paul said in one of the most misunderstood verses in the entire Bible: 1 Thess. 5:18 If we want to know God’s will for our lives it is simple. In everything give thanks. Notice the Bible does not say for all circumstances and situations. Why should someone thank God for cancer? Or, for an auto accident? No. God is not that kind of God. It says, be thankful in all situations. Why? It means we can thank God, because we know that he can even take the bad in our lives and turn it around and bring good out of it.
Here’s my suggestion, takes Paul’s word to be thankful in all circumstances seriously. I call it Thank Therapy. And Thank Therapy involves simply writing on paper—typing on your computer—the reasons why you are thankful. So, to practice Thank Therapy you need a piece of paper and then you need to number the paper 1 through 20 and begin writing those things for which you are Grateful. Take the list and post it—put it on your mirror—make a screen saver out of it—put it up on the refrigerator, put it on Face Book, write in your journal/notebook, to remind you of the many things in your life deserving thanks.
- Let’ Express Words of Gratitude Often.
Sincere words of Gratitude have enormous power. Do you know how powerful and encouraging your words of thank you are to the people you come in contact with? Maybe you need to speak those words to somebody in your life, maybe a friend. Maybe your parents need to hear them. Maybe it’s a coach or a teacher who believed in you, who breathed life into you, had dreams for you, cheered you on and comforted you when you needed that. What do you say? Write them a note or make a phone call, send them an email… Maybe it is time to do something extravagant and get a gift for somebody. Something happens inside our hearts when we express Gratitude.
The Heart and soul Of Our Reason to Be thankful and Grateful is found in Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God let us know in an unmistakable way that he loves us by coming down from heaven, becoming a human being and dying for us.
- What Do You Say
When you go to bed tonight?
When God opens your eyes tomorrow morning and you are again given the gift of life?
When you look into the face of somebody who knows and loves you and smiles at you?
When you eat something that tastes really good and you are so glad for the gift of taste?
When you tell your hand to do something and your hand does it?
When you read a book and your mind is able to contemplate what you are reading?
When you look out the window and see the mountains and the sun shining?
When you read that God has given us gift after gift after gift what do you say?
Thank You Pastor John!
2017 is my 10th full year of having An Attitude of Gratitude as my New Year’s Resolution. It doesn’t mean I do it every day, it just means that I do the best I can on any given day. I hope that you’ll give the idea of having An Attitude of Gratitude a try as well.