God, may you be honored above the heavens. Let your glory be over the whole earth. God, my heart feels secure. My heart feels secure. I will sing and make music for you. (Psalm 57:5, 7)
Every year at this time I pull Diana Butler-Bass’s book Grateful off my shelf. It is such a good read! In a section of her book entitled “Choosing Gratitude As a Way of Life,” she tells the story of a friend of hers who was going through a difficult time following the end of a relationship. He became anxious and depressed and admitted that he was in the midst of a spiritual crisis.
Butler-Bass says, “After many long talks about faith, I finally gave him a small book of gratitude quotes,” suggesting to him that rather than focusing on feelings of loss, he tried to find something good each day, in hopes that he might see how much there was to be thankful for. A couple of days later, he texted her a quote from the book that really spoke to him. The quote read: “God, help me to quiet my noisy, worrisome mind in my ordinary world. Help me to relax in the familiar and to be aware of and appreciate it.”
Butler-Bass says, “Of all the possible quotes in the book for him to choose, this one surprised me.” She had expected something more straightforward, perhaps comforting words about gifts and abundance. But his quote was a prayer: “God, help me.” With what? “To relax in the familiar and to be aware of and appreciate it.” She goes on to say that he was not asking for dramatic healing, for answers to be written in the sky, or for God to fix his problems. He simply wanted to see the world around him more fully and deeply, to develop greater awareness, and to be grateful for what was already there. After thinking about it for a bit she realized that’s probably all any of us really needs.
“That is what practicing gratitude comes down to. All around us, every day, there are gifts. Whether we are facing a crisis or not, no matter our challenges or feelings, there are gifts…. If we cultivate our awareness to see those gifts more often…thankfulness becomes a regular part of how we respond to the world. …It becomes a steadying companion, incorporated into the story of our lives. Gratitude emerges as a daily – even hourly – attitude of appreciation for the familiar gifts around us.”
May it be so with us. †
Blessings! Pastor Becki