What to Do When You Don't Feel Very Thankful
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
It was one of those days. I drove to the airport in the pouring rain. The skies were gray. The day was gloomy. And honestly, so was I.
Many of the things entrusted to me in life were beginning to feel more like burdens than blessings.
There were just a lot of little things swarming my thoughts. Feelings of inadequacy stinging. There are so many things I'm responsible for and never enough hours in the day. I do enough to keep things from sinking. But I just wonder if I'm doing anything well. I don't think I am ... doing anything well.
The more I focused on these thoughts, the more overpowered I became. The more overpowered I became, the more withdrawn I felt.
I pulled into the parking space and started the fight with my luggage. My suitcase has two wheels missing, and of course I keep intending to do something about this. But I don't have time. So I make do with a crazy suitcase and a crazy life and a crazy sense I should just pack my family up and move out west somewhere. Live on a ranch where we grow our own food and I cook beans in a black pot over an open flame.
Surely that would fix everything.
Except that I know it wouldn't.
Because the chaos isn't from my circumstances.
It's inside me.
I boarded the plane. I stared out the window. I watched the gray clouds envelop us.
And then the gray broke.
Suddenly, we rose above the clouds and the sun was shining brightly. The sky was fabulously clear.
The clouds were just a temporary covering. They didn't stop the sun from shining. They just prevented my eyes from seeing the sun. And it wasn't just the sky that appeared a little brighter. My mood did as well.
I started to shift from feeling overpowered to empowered as I realized three things:
Just because I feel it doesn't make it real.
Just like the clouds prevented my eyes from seeing sun, my gloomy mood had prevented me from seeing the truth. I might feel like I'm not doing anything well, but it doesn't make it true. The fact that I have weaknesses doesn't make everything about me weak. I have plenty of strengths.
All I have to do is ask a couple of my friends or family members to help me see what I do well. I can celebrate those, and then get a plan for bettering things that need improvement. I can start by identifying one thing to improve on this month, and do a little toward making that one thing better.
There are a lot of people who would trade their best day for my worst day.
Yes, I have a lot to manage. And yes, sometimes things get a little foggy. But that doesn't mean I have to stay swallowed up in the gray. That means I need to get my head above the clouds and see all the many places where the sun is shining brightly in my life.
I can start by making a list of things for which I need to be thankful.
My mind needs some space to think.
If I always run at a breakneck pace, I'm eventually going to break. My mind is a powerful tool, capable of seeing things that can be done more efficiently and effectively if I give myself time to think. When is the last time I just sat quietly with a pen and paper and asked the Lord to help me think?
As 2 Corinthians 12:9 teaches, God's power is made perfect in weakness. When I'm sinking in thoughts of inadequacy, I remember that my ability is not based on what I can do. My ability and strength come from the One Who can do all things.
With the Lord working in me and through my weaknesses, I can feel the transformation from being overpowered to empowered taking place.
If the clouds have been looming close lately, maybe it's time to stop. Pause. Lift your eyes to an altitude that can rearrange your attitude.
Dear Lord, thank You for all You've given me. I want to cultivate a thankful heart that relies on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances;" (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Keep a notebook or a piece of paper with you all day today. Write down things you are thankful for throughout the day and then look back over your list before you go to bed — thanking God for each and every one.