Sunday, November 18, 2012

attitude of gratitude

I've mentioned before on my blog that I am a worrier.  I can get worked up about the almost anything, and nearly worry myself sick about it.  So when I saw a devotional at the Bible bookstore a few months ago titled, Calm My Anxious Heart, I thought it might be worth reading.  Fast-forward to Friday evening, I was reading through a chapter about halfway through the book, and while nearly everything I read was thought provoking, one thing in particular caught my attention and just made my cheeks flame.  Here's what I read:

We tell our children, "Don't complain," but do we practice what we preach?  Elisabeth Elliot remembers that the children of the jungle tribe in South America where she ministered never complained because they had not been taught to complain.  Listen to your heart.  Listen to your words.  Look at your actions.  Are you teaching your children to be grateful for God's blessings? (Dillow, Linda.  Calm My Anxious Heart:  A Woman's Guide to Finding Contentment.  Colorado: Navpress, 2007.  p 99.)

These words made my heart sink.  You see, I can be very negative and often get annoyed easily by really insignificant little things (you know, those little dilemmas that are sometimes jokingly referred to as first world problems).  Sometimes I'll get all worked up and be so offended by something that I feel I have to post a complaint on Facebook about it, in the hopes of getting sympathy or to at least make me feel like I'm right about the situation.  Once in awhile, as I'm furiously typing away, I feel that little twinge, that convicted feeling, and (usually with a heavy sigh) decide not to post it after all as I remember that I shouldn't be using Facebook as a place to complain and be negative.  But you can be sure I mention it to Steve when he gets home!  I probably spend at least 15 minutes a day complaining to him about things that happened while he was at work, things people said to me or things I read on a some blog.  I don't call it complaining when I'm doing it, instead I usually just call it venting in a poor attempt to feel justified.  I highly doubt he enjoys listening to my "venting" day after day, I'm sure he'd much rather hear more about the positive things that happened throughout the day.

I've actually thought about this quite a bit but never really in the context that I thought about it Friday night - in the context of how it could be affecting Riggs.  What a poor example I am, focusing so much on the negative aspects of my day!  And what's worse is that because of my incorrect focus, he is not learning how important it is to be aware of and thankful for the many blessings in our lives each and everyday.  Phillipians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (ESV).  This verse isn't saying that we should only think of puppies and roses and newborn babies and butterflies, instead it means that we should find the good in each situation and dwell on it.  And if we are only thinking about good things, that means we will only talk about good things too.  I know too well that Riggs is like a little sponge watching my every move and listening to every word and soaking it all up.  I need to focus on having an "attitude of gratitude" rather than just an attitude.  What do you do when you find yourself focusing mainly on the negative rather than the positive?  How do you remind yourself to be thankful for the all the blessings, big and small, in your day to day life?

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