My Journal of Gratitude
Depression and anxiety are suffocating emotions. During a particularly difficult season in my life, I fought back the onslaught of both. To name a few of the issues: my teens were lying, my parents were dying, we were dog broke, and I was dealing with too many menopausal issues to count. I was spinning plates as fast as I could, and yet there was no peace on the horizon. Life felt extremely heavy! The burdens I carried were weighing me down into a miserable pit. But as a Christian, I even piled shame on myself for feeling this way. Wasn’t I supposed to be living an abundant life? BUT GOD! He graciously intervened.
During that particularly difficult season, I read the book 1000 Gifts by Anne Voskamp. Desperately needing some oxygen for living, and inspired by Anne’s story, I started journaling everything that I could possibly be grateful for. I asked God to open my eyes to even the smallest gift . . . like a knuckle to help wrap my finger around my coffee cup, like heating and air conditioning, like toilet paper, like fresh air. This daily exercise didn’t lift me out of my pit immediately, but it started a rich journey toward a new type of wholeness—a wholeness birthed through the lens of a grateful heart.
As I continue to diligently open my eyes and my heart to all the gifts in my life, I began to recognize them everywhere. It was like there was a whole new world to appreciate that I hadn’t taken the time to see or made the choice to notice.
Across weeks of writing down and” naming” these gifts, a light-heartedness developed even amidst the trials of each day. My grateful heart slowly pushed out the weightiness of my days. I began to realize that a grateful heart and an anxious heart could not simultaneously reside in the same person at the same time. It was either anxiety or gratitude taking up the space of my heart. I became excited to venture into each new day with new eyes to see new gifts. Depression gave way to a gratitude, and gratitude became my best antidepressant. Not just a “one and done” type gratitude, but a consistent diligent gratitude that almost refused to be sucked back into that pit of despair again. My life was too precious to live that way.
I flew through 1,000 gifts within months and decided that this was a new way of life. A grateful heart had transformed my days. Even more exciting, my grateful heart began to permeate my home and my family. So many things began to change when I changed my heart. This is a battle ground worth fighting on. I celebrated this new life-giving habit. I found that there is transforming power in a grateful heart.
Ponder the tension between your gratitude and depression, between joy and sadness. How can you make deliberate choices to open your eyes and journal all the gifts you have been given?
Lord, help me constantly and daily choose to see Your gifts everywhere. Open my eyes to gratitude and the choice to give You thanks in all things.
*So, I have read the book by Anne Voskamp. At one time I started listing hundreds of things, small and large, to be thankful for. It was a good thing to do.
I’m deciding to do that again, with the desired outcome of increasing my joy.
Some days I will only list one thing. Other days, several things.
I need to develop an attitude of gratitude and learn to be aware of all the thousands of things that I have to be grateful for--big things, small things.
BECOME MORE AWARE.
Today I am thankful for the awareness that I am “back on track” with my favorite hobby, watercolor art. It has been a bit of a challenge, after taking a break through November and December. I am now able to move forward, and although I always know that I need to improve--a lot--I do allow myself to enjoy feeling good about a piece that I have completed.
Yesterday and today I was able to follow along with a tutorial by Louise de Masi to complete this sweet little giraffe.
So, I’m thankful for this today.