“Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all things; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – Paul in I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
It is easy to get caught up in the horror of news on our Facebook and Twitter feeds these days because it seems like there is something horrible happening every day. And I know you know that I believe it is important for us as justice seekers to cultivate awareness about what is going on in the world, and especially where our neighbors are struggling (P.S. There are better places to do that than social media.) I also want to lift up that I am enjoying being part of a social media group that posts things we are grateful for each day.
Some days I have put a lot of thought into what I write. On other days it is an afterthought at the end of a busy day. I make myself do it when I am feeling good, mediocre, or bad. And what I have noticed is that no matter where I am emotionally or what is going on in my life- I always feel lighter after I post. I especially notice this after scrolling down and reading and “liking” the gratitudes others have posted.
You know I am a strong believer in practicing gratitude. It is much more than just saying “thanks.” It is an essential spiritual practice. Paul even suggests that it is “God’s will/desire” that we “rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances!” (Yes. He says “All.” We are going to talk about that this Sunday.)
Expressing gratitude has the (extraordinary) power to shift us from focusing on the energy of what is negative and “going wrong” in our lives. It makes us better justice seekers because we are able to find the grace in negative situations, look at things from a more centered place, and find ways to stand stronger with our neighbors that we might not have been aware of before. Scientific research has even shown that “practicing gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress and drastically improve our overall level of health and wellbeing.” And that is important as we work to step out of our reactivity and overwhelm, and follow the Jesus Way in the sick and broken places in ourselves and in our communities.
P.S. I am getting ready to write my gratitudes for today when I finish this article. (Serving as your Pastor is one of them.) What are you grateful for? I look forward to hearing more about that on Sunday….
-With Joy, Blessings, and Gratitude, Rev. Jeanne