“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with Praise! Give thanks to Him: bless His name!” Psalm 100:4
Thanksgiving, a time we dedicate in the space of our busy lives to pause and consider all that we have to be thankful for.
On this day many will fondly look back on the events of the past year and have hearts filled with joy for the blessings that have been bestowed upon them, counting our family, friendships, work opportunities, health and prosperity.
Many more will instead be entering this holiday season and this day devoted to giving thanks, with far more than their share of hardship, struggle,worry, loss and pain. Can we really be expected to “Give Thanks” for such times as these?
Surely, this is not for the faint of heart or those of little faith. The natural tendency is to complain, worry, and even curse over the details of our lives that have been ‘less than the best’. It is certainly not easy to feel grateful when you are feeling pain. Yet, it may be the only way through to the light on the other side.
Gratitude is the spiritual panacea for what we feel is still lacking in our lives. Many of us can look back at the trauma and losses we have felt this past year and see in hindsight how our souls have grown, how we have learned to care for the deeper parts of ourselves. We recognize how it has increased our resiliency as well as the truth that, try as we might, we are always in need of God’s grace and His grace is always sufficient, when we seek it. Our faith becomes a precious gift at these times.
The truth is pain and gratitude can co exist. We can choose to seek the good in whatever our circumstances, and practice radical acceptance and gratitude for all that is part of our lives right now.
It is seeing and holding the pain and it’s antidote paradoxically, and yet we discover that the moment we express gratitude over our circumstances is the same moment in which they are transformed.
A study published in “Psychosomatic Medicine” showed that the expression of gratitude through journaling has a significant impact on bio-markers of inflammation and improved parasympathetic heart rate variability in patients with stage B Heart Failure. This is an encouraging association and is correlated with the mind-body connection of positive emotions such as gratitude and the impact they have on physical health.
Gratitude is a gift for us to open every day, not just on this one day a year.
It is a gift we need to give ourselves, not just when we ‘feel’ like it, when things are humming along, but rather choosing to be grateful each and every day regardless of our current circumstances. In giving gratitude for what is, even during the tough lessons, we are making a choice to see the good in our lives, starting today and that is the greatest transformation there could be.
Wishing all a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!