I know that it is a bit cliche' to talk about being grateful because it is November, the month of Thanksgiving. But it is something that has definitely been on my mind lately. Daniel and I have often talked about the idea of "placing your burdens at the feet of the Lord." What does that truely mean? How do you do that in a practical way? I know that I have only just begun to understand this concept but here are some things I have discovered.
The first lesson I have learned is to give thanks. Everything that I am and everything I do is a gift from God. This is a perspective that requires diligent tending. It is so easy to start taking things for granted- to think I deserve this. Or to think I'm not worthy of it. Feeling entitled and feeling worthless are both deviations off the true path. Like any good parent, the Lord wants us to feel happy and blessed, but very grateful. When I give service to my children, I do it out of love. They are my children and I want them to be happy. But as any parent can attest, a spoiled child who doesn't express gratitude or worse -complains, is less likely to get help until their attitude changes. But just as heartbreaking, is a child who feels worthless. They have a difficult time accepting love because of the blinding, numbing affect of not feeling good enough. They are stunted in their growth because they can't see the love and blessings that surround them. The way to overcome being spoiled, entitled, or worthless is to begin being thankful.
Some days are easy to find things to be thankful for: my family, my home, my neighbors, the schools my kids attend, their good teachers, my husband's job, my health. These are obvious blessings. Some days, when I battle depression, it is difficult to be thankful. I have to start with being thankful for a beating heart, for breathing. Then I can move on to sight, and sounds, for a comfortable bed, for the heater that kicked on, the hot water in my shower, and the soap that smells good.
The trick to true gratitude is to find it in your heart. It is easy to make a list. But when you can feel it in your heart, imagining what it would be like to lack those blessings, then comes the change in your heart that gratitude can bring. I have always thought that sympathy is knowing how someone feels because you can imagine it in your head. But empathy is knowing how someone feels because you experience it in your heart. True thankfulness allows for empathy to grow which allows for greater charity and love towards our fellow men. When anger, callousness, impatience or sadness struggle to take over, true gratefulness, felt in the heart, is a comforting warmth that changes those feelings and helps to heal them.