A Gratitude Adjustment

How long does it take before complaints and discouragement overpower your enthusiasm for the new school year? Do you make it until the second or third week of school? Or are you mumbling under your breath before the kids even start?

I usually find myself grappling with complaints in the very first hour back. THIS is the new schedule? I'll be teaching in THAT classroom? HE'S the student assigned to me?

You'd think a solid eight weeks of rest, relaxation, and traveling would immunize me against complaints for longer than twenty seven minutes, but it just doesn't work that way.

Over the last few months, I've been trying something different. When I feel a complaining spirit rising up in me, I say THANK YOU. Sometimes out loud, sometimes in mind. Usually when I say it, I don't even know what I'm saying thank you for. But as soon as the words leave my lips, the gratitude starts flowing.

Sitting in traffic: Oh, geez, here we go, I'm going to be late! [Sigh.] THANK YOU, Lord, for giving me the opportunity to go to this place I'm traveling to. Thank you for bringing me this far and being with me now--thank you that I am never alone! It looks like there is an accident up ahead. Thank you for keeping me safe. Lord, please be with the people who are in that car! Thank you for helping me to get a bigger perspective here. Thank you for giving me patience.

Getting dental work done: As much as I hate being at the dentist...thank you. THANK YOU! I am so grateful to have good medical care and a dentist that is kind and competent. Thank you, God, that because of this discomfort right now, I won't have to go through a lifetime of untreated pain! Thank you for your assurance that you will never give me more than I can bear.

Irritated with a stressful situation at work: I can't believe this is happening. I'm so angry right now...but...thank you. Thank you, Lord. I'll keep saying it to myself until I figure out what I'm thankful for. Thank you giving me this job. Thank you for equipping me to handle everything that comes my way. Thank you for the chance to be a positive influence when other people have creating a discouraging situation. Thank you for helping me figure out what to do next. Thank you for working everything together for my good.

It's amazing how just the utterance of these words shifts my whole outlook and mood almost instantly. One moment I feel like I could moan and groan forever about what's going wrong, and suddenly I am deep in conversation with God, completely refocused on everything that is right in my life.

Next time you find yourself complaining--whether it's about something legitimately awful or a simple overreaction--I hope you'll give this practice a try. Just say THANK YOU. Watch the way these words can humble even the hardest heart, and take the most frustrating events and put them in the proper, eternal perspective.

God tells us to give thanks in ALL things. More and more, I understand that this directive is not for His benefit, it's for ours! We're the ones who are most blessed as His peace and contentment flow down to us. When we recognize a complaining spirit and take just a moment to cultivate a grateful heart, we bring our thinking in line with God's word and open ourselves up for Him to work. The negative feelings which were overwhelming us then subside, leaving us refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes next.

Thank you, Lord!

7 comments:

Amy said...

Your words always come at just the right time, Angela! I actually do what you are describing as well. I also try to think "God bless... (him/her)" right away when someone hurts or offends me--it takes the focus off my anger and reminds me that the person is probably struggling with things I don't even know about and needs prayers too. I won't lie and say it's easy and instantly takes all the pain away, but it certainly helps.

Michelle said...

You are such a blessing in your blog. Thank you.

mrsvancini21 said...

Why is it that we are so quick to complain and yet when it comes to saying thank-you, there are many times we even forget to utter those words! Your words are so true; that when we begin to thank Him in all things, He is quick to help us with our attitudes. Thank - you for your timely words=)

Kim and Scott said...

I had not visited your blog in quite some time. Then, today, perfect timing! I had one of those days and this couldn't have come at a better time! Thank you for this post! I blogged about it today.

Kim from :
http://starbucksstandardssharpies.blogspot.com/

Constance said...

I LOVE this!!! Thanks!

Angela said...

@Amy: I like the idea of saying "God bless..." I will try that! It's hard to complain about or criticize someone in that frame of mind. Great tip!

@Michelle: Thank you! I really appreciate the encouragement.

@Mrsvancini21: You are so right! Complaints just flow off our lips...unless we re-train ourselves to say words of gratitude. I'm hoping this will become a habit. :-)

@KimandScorr:So glad you came by today, and thank you for blogging about this! What a blessing to know how my words have touched you, and the readers of your blog.

@Constance: You are very welcome! I hope it helps. :-)

learnforalifetime said...

I shared this devotion with our faculty at our Monday morning devotion time; they all said, "What an appropriate devotion!" Thank you for your words and wonderful reminder to focus on God when we are frustrated.