Choosing to be Grateful

BY: KELLY JOY FJESTAD

I woke up crabby this week. Nothing was really wrong, but nothing seemed right either. I just wanted to sit on the couch and do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. Have you ever had one of those days? Where you just feel blah. You can’t really put words to it, but you just know that you don’t feel right.

If I’m not careful, those types of days can take me down a dangerous rabbit hole of emotions. Suddenly things that were a little annoying are world shattering. Emotions I had been keeping successfully at bay, are right on the edge of eruption. Tiny failures become gigantic roadblocks. Missed opportunities feel like throw-in the-towel, it’s-never-going-to-get-better, why-do-I-even-bother-trying, do-I even-have-a-purpose-on-this-earth moments.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has days like this!

I don’t know what causes these days. They seem to appear out of thin air, knocking me down in the middle of an otherwise great week. I’ll admit, if it has rained for days and days and I haven’t seen the sun for a week — it is much more likely. However, sometimes life can be going really, really well and still, BAM!

One of the best ways I have found to combat these days is gratitude. Making a list of all the things I’m thankful for. There is power in turning your focus to all the things God HAS blessed you with.

It can be so very easy to focus on all the things that are going wrong in our lives, all the things we wish were different, all the things that didn’t happen the way we wanted them to. The failures, the missed opportunities, the losses. Those things are easy to focus on. It doesn’t take much effort to think about what we want different.

But to focus on what is right, that takes effort! When everything is falling apart, when our hearts are broken, when we have failed, when we have lost, when we have been rejected, those are the most important, and yet hardest times to remember all the things we DO have.

For most of us, the basic list of things we can be grateful for is a long list. For example, most of us have kitchens full of food. Think of the blessing it is to be able to go into the pantry or the refrigerator and CHOOSE what you want to eat. Many people in the world will never have that luxury. What about indoor plumbing? A roof over your head. Hot water at the turn of a faucet. Clean water to drink. Heat in the winter. Air in the summer. Eyes that can see colors. The ability to read. Ears that can hear. The ability to move, run, jump, carry heavy boxes. The ability to feed yourself or care for yourself in general. A car to get where you need/want to go. Gas to put in that car. Money to pay for all the things you need/want. Friends, family, neighbors. A job. Free time to do what you want to do. And so, so, so much more!

If you read that list and focused on the one thing you didn’t have, you might have missed the point of gratefulness.

Gratefulness is choosing to focus on the things we do have instead of the things we do not. Choosing to focus on the blessings God has put in our lives instead of the things that have been taken away.

Maybe you are in a tough season of loss. I get it, I’ve been there. But, that is the best time to choose to be grateful! It is easy to be grateful in a season of abundance, but to choose gratefulness during a difficult season shows true character.

My challenge to you today is to start your own “Grateful List.” No matter what season you are in, choose to be thankful. What are you grateful for? What are the things you take for granted every day? What are the things you have overlooked or under-appreciated? What could you be thankful for today? Changing your perspective just might change your life!

Kelly is a wife and mother of five children living in Fort Worth, Texas. She is an ordained minister and author of PAUSED: Protecting Your Faith When God Says "Wait" and Pursuit: The Cross. For more info visit: kellyjoy.org