A Grateful Heart…

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
-William Arthur Ward

Bear with me; I am about to say something very cheesy (as I am so notorious for doing).  Gratitude rhymes with attitude.  There’s got to be something to that, right? Well, maybe not intentionally, but I am about to attempt to prove that gratitude has everything to do with attitude.

Ever had the pleasure of being around someone with a grateful heart? Maybe you couldn’t put your finger on it right away, but there was something about that person that made them absolutely magnetizing.  I worked with a guy once who was that way.  He was absolutely precious.  You could get stuck doing the most unpleasant tasks with him (use your imagination as to what that task could be- I am a nurse), and it didn’t matter because you would find yourself smiling despite the circumstances.  People with a grateful heart have the ability to make you feel peace when you are around them,  because no matter what, they are thankful.  My grateful nurse-friend was that person that always said things like, “Man, this is hard work.  But at least I’m healthy enough to do it.”  The Bible says a lot about what type of attitude a Christian should have.  Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”  I firmly believe that what made spending time with this dear friend so enjoyable was his attitude of gratitude.  So with his character in mind, I picked out some things I could learn, and I would love to share them with you now.

1. Grateful people don’t complain.  A person with who fills his heart and mind with gratitude leaves no room for discontent or complaining.  It’s sort of like the old adage, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”  No one likes to be around someone who complains all the time.  Ever been around someone who wants everyone to believe he/she is some kind of martyr?  You know the one.  “I just can’t hardly think, I’m so busy.  I’ve got a million things to do, and I’m only going to get about half of them done.  I don’t even have time to do what I want to because of everything I have to do.”  I’ve been that person.  Time and time again, I’ve been that person.  Then, I have a conversation with a grateful friend, and I realize how unnecessary all that complaining was.  A grateful person would say, “I have a lot to do.  I’m blessed with a job, three kids, college classes to finish, and the good health to enjoy and accomplish them all.”  Life slows down when you count those blessings instead of complain about juggling all of them.

2. Grateful people are at peace with themselves and others. I have the privilege of knowing a handful of people with grateful hearts.  One common trait they possess is peacefulness.  I never feel harried, rushed, or anxious around any of them.  They exude this sort of “deep cleansing breath” feeling about them.  They are the friends that you meet up with after a long day and go “Whew. Good to see you.” There is a feeling of relief just being in their presence, because they are so peaceful.  God explains this one for us.  Paul writes in Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”  They are thankful, so they are peaceful.

3. They just do what they have to do, and move on.  This one was a little hard for me to put into words, because I so desire to be like this, but I have such a long way to go.  Grateful people don’t require constant gratification or verification that they have done a good job at something.  They don’t need constant assurance from others that they are doing the right things or living the way they should.  Their confidence in themselves is rooted in their faith, and that’s good enough.  2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” These are the people who don’t seek praise from others for doing good deeds.  They are not haughty or boastful, because they are just grateful to be able to help others.  They don’t need the recognition or a pat on the back, because they already know that God sees their actions and knows their hearts.  I have noticed that a genuinely grateful person is also a humble person.

4. Grateful people don’t keep their gratitude a secret. This thought is derived from a recent “thank you” card I received.  I have received some very thoughtful and sincere “thank you’s” in the past, but I can’t say that about this card.  I couldn’t help but giggle as I thought about what my mother would have to say about its meager contents.  The note read, “Thanks for the gift,” followed by a stamp of the couples’ names.  I pictured the couple sitting at a table, one writing, and the other stamping, like some sort of miniature assembly line.  The card was so cold and disconnected, I thought, why bother?  I guess they get points for at least sending a card.  My point is, a grateful person leaves you with no doubt that they are truly thankful.  They tell you with words.  They write you sweet e-mails or heartfelt cards.  They give hugs. They give compliments. They literally have a twinkle in their eye that says, “I am so blessed!”  I read a quote that sums this thought up perfectly. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

5. Grateful people can endure anything. There’s a song we sing fairly often during worship services called Count Your Blessings. It’s a very simple song, but the words hold great meaning.

The first verse says:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

These words are so true.  A grateful person can get through anything just by being grateful for the good until the bad can pass.  It helps us get out of “Poor, pitiful me” mode and into a more productive and peaceful one.  Think how much time is wasted worrying or being sad about circumstances in our lives.  We could enjoy and appreciate so much more if we’d just change our attitudes.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I have so much to be thankful for it takes my breath away.  I pray I live breathlessly every day.

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