Friday, December 30, 2016

Joy and Gratitude Begin Today

Joy and gratitude: which comes first?

If I am intent on joy with all people and in all circumstances, then I will look for and observe—in essence learn—what I am grateful for.

If I am intent on gratitude, using every opportunity to be thankful instead of its opposite, joy will result.

I don’t honestly know which comes first. They are interchangeable, perhaps inseparable.

Both joy and gratefulness require a paradigm shift off of ourselves so that we can actually listen to, hear, and see those around us and their circumstances and perspective.

We can stop focusing on “what have you done for me lately” to “look at what you’ve done for me in the past” or “look at what you actually are doing for me lately but I failed to notice because I was fixated on a void that I was expecting you to fill.”

Gratitude and joy complete life's picture and once we see it in its entirety, we can repent that we didn’t see it in its wholeness before: that it was tainted by our own selfishness and regard for our self.

After we have reconciled this warped view on our part, we are able to live in reconciliation with others. 

We live reconciled when we abide in a joy-gratitude attitude that keeps our conscious clear with God, regardless of how (or if) our joy and gratitude is received or accepted by others.

We keep-on keepin-on in joy and gratitude because that is what breeds more joy and gratitude, and it’s what, in the end, pleases God.

Now, I’m not talking about a manufactured fake "look-at-me" act. I’m not talking about false flattery, which Scripture does not condone. I’m talking about a humble, genuine, sincere projection of honest gratitude born out of seeking God’s perspective and guidance.

I’m also not advocating hiding pain or sorrow, or avoiding hard discussions when they are called for. Because, as Scripture points out, we can have joy even in the difficulties of life. But knowing that we are to have joy even in those times will enable us to get through them and to perhaps one day be grateful for what came out of the trial.

I do believe that this living out of joy and gratitude has the potential to elicit deeper discussions with others and within ourselves as we let go of resentment, freeing ourselves into more loving relationships.

Now, as with any initial modification in our person, people may look at us funny; we may feel sheepish.
“Where have these words and actions of gratitude come from?” they might ask.
Why is this person so at peace, and filled with such quiet, and sometimes exuberant, joy?”

Just stay the course.

I believe each new day is the beginning: so I don’t put much stock in the commencing of the New Year as being anything particularly special, other than a symbolic “starting over.” However, adding joy and gratitude does not require “starting over.” It simply means we continue on in the increasing integrity that God has been building in us since the day He adopted us.

We either intentionally incorporate these two elements into our lives as part of a continual spiritual, mental and emotional maturing process, or we don’t. It’s simply the next step in the ongoing journey: joy and gratitude are attributes we choose to pick up and own as we walk with God, as He teaches us to do so.

We may kick our selves and wonder why we didn’t, or couldn’t, do it sooner. But the main thing is to be thankful and joyful that we are doing it now. And a day will come when we won’t be able to comprehend how we ever got through life without them.

copyright Barb Harwood

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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