By Guest Writer Anna Joy:
Of all people, I should be thankful to rake leaves.
Two years ago, my family was officially “homeless” for a year. During that time, I would have been so grateful to have had my very own yard to rake.
My family is now living in a beautiful home in a gorgeous neighborhood, and I find myself complaining because of lower back pain and blisters on my hands, the results of raking a lovely, rolling lawn.
Ingratitude is one of the ugliest human traits. We are so prone to complain and so often forget to say “Thank you.”
Here are 7 attitudes that will kill your gratitude:
When I hand my children each a pile of goldfish crackers for a snack, their first inclination is to start counting their goldfish. Why? Because they want to BE SURE that the piles are distributed equally. In their selfish little hearts, their first inclination is to test for “fairness” rather than being grateful for the gift that they have been given.
Adults are not immune to this behavior! We are constantly comparing ourselves with other people, afraid that God has shorted us and given somebody else more. All too often, we do not even pause to thank God for all of the amazing, undeserved blessings that He has showered us with.
Antidote: If you struggle with comparisons, try reaching out to people who have less than you do.
- Look through a Compassion International Catalog.
- Make a meal for an elderly neighbor.
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
- Take a meal to a family staying at a Ronald MacDonald House.
- Spend some time encouraging elderly people in a nursing home.
You WILL come away counting your blessings.
The moment that we start to think that we deserve something is the moment that we cease to feel thankful for it. If I feel that I deserve roses on Valentine’s Day, than I will not feel very grateful when my husband presents me with roses on Valentine’s Day. After all, I deserved them!
The problem with this thinking is that we don’t deserve anything. Every good gift that God gives us is undeserved and should elicit joy and thanksgiving in our hearts.
Antidote: Take a moment to read Philippians 2:1-18. When we pause to remember the judgement that we truly deserve, and the forgiveness that God has given to us through the life and death of His perfect Son Jesus Christ, entitlement is replaced with true gratitude.
It is hard to slow down to be grateful when we are so busy we can hardly breathe. If we are so consistently busy that we have no time left to feel and express gratitude, than something is terribly, horribly wrong in our lives.
Jesus told Martha that, in spite of all Martha’s busyness with “good works”, Mary had chosen the better thing – time spent building a relationship with God. (Luke 10:38-42)
God is calling us to first of all have a relationship with Him, and part of this relationship includes gratitude. If we are too busy to be grateful to God, than we are not walking in His will, despite all the “wonderful” things that we might be doing “for” Him.
Antidote: Get a copy of the book Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung and put it in your bathroom. Even if you only have time to read a couple of paragraphs a day, it will help you to start evaluating why you are so busy. The “Why” will be both convicting and enlightening.
Worry about the future quickly saps the energy out of present gratitude. Worry accomplishes nothing but to rob us of joy and gratitude in this present moment and to demonstrate our lack of trust in our Heavenly Father.
Antidote: Read Matthew 6:25-34. Worship is the perfect antidote to worry. Worry says, “My house might burn down to the ground! What am I going to do? AGHHH!” Worship says, “Yes, my house may burn down to the ground, but God is still in control. God has promised me a better home in heaven anyway. May God be glorified in my life regardless of what happens.”
This one is ugly. It is hard to be thankful when all we can focus on are the negatives and faults of the people and things around us.
Antidote: Imagine what life would be like if that one “imperfect” thing that you are focusing on were completely removed from your life. (For example, your husband may have some quirks that drive you crazy. But can you imagine life without your husband?) Then, take some time to thank God for the imperfect blessings that surround you. Thank God that He does not discard you even with all of your “imperfections”. Ask God to help you really see the good blessings that He has given you.
6. High Expectations
How would your kids respond if they got up on Christmas morning and discovered that there was just one shoe box for each of them under the tree filled with a couple of small toys, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a box of crayons? Would their faces mirror the delight and excitement of the faces of these children who are ecstatic to receive this same box? What is the difference?
Antidote: Remember that we are living in a sin cursed, fallen world. This life guarantees us nothing. Let’s place our high expectations in the life to come. Thank God that, because of His beautiful plan of salvation, this world is not our only hope. Take time to be thankful for the things in life that you have now, remembering that there is no guarantee that you will still have them tomorrow.
I know that many of you reading this right now are exhausted. Perhaps you have a newborn baby, are experiencing insomnia because of hormonal changes, or are working non-stop just to make ends meet.
If you are in any of these situations, my heart goes out to you. It is difficult to be grateful when we are physically spent.
Antidote: If at all possible, you may need to set some things aside to allow yourself more time to rest. Prioritize a couple of minutes a day to read God’s Word and thank Him for His good gifts. If you have a hard time praying because you fall asleep, try writing your prayers to God in a small journal, including thanksgivings. If you are up during the night hours, use the time to read some of these verses from the Night Meditation Box, selected especially for late night reading.
Gratitude is a state of heart that we need to be consciously cultivating.
We need to be protecting our gratitude from these seven attitudes that will kill our gratitude.
Which of these gratitude killers have you been struggling with? How will you battle your gratitude killing attitudes today? What gratitude killing attitudes would you add to this list? I would love to hear from you! Please scroll down to comment.
Anna Joy is the blogger behind Path Through the Narrow Gate, a blog dedicated to helping Christian families discover that family Bible study is not only doable, but enjoyable. She homeschools her three children, enjoys playing the fiddle, makes dinner occasionally, and never irons the clothes.