What are you grateful for?

It’s 11 days to Christmas, which for most mothers, means you’re completely immersed in the festive commitments. When I’m fully immersed I find it hard to pause from the business, however in my rare moments of quiet, I can’t help but think back on the year that has been. As children finish their schooling year, it’s natural to reflect on how quickly the year has passed, but also on what was most memorable. Whether it be memorable for good things or bad, each year can be marked by something significant: new employment, poor health, the finishing of the primary years or the secondary, the birth of a baby, the death of a loved one; or just a continuance of the ever crazy family circus. 

For many of us the year may have thrown up unexpected challenges, that threatened to throw us off course, and so entering this Christmas season with joy and hope may not be easy.  You may be feeling somewhat jaded and desperate for the year to end. If this is you, then I wish to  encourage you. While the reality of what has gone before cannot be changed, (acknowledging the hardship is important) there is one thing you can do that will reshape how you finish. Instead of dwelling on the difficulties, you can be intentional in thinking on what you are grateful for.  Indeed, I find that when I dig a little deeper than the surface, I discover there are many mercies that I am thankful for. Kindnesses that weren’t immediately obvious.

Last year was particularly difficult for me, and in the middle of much turmoil a kind friend took me to a Resilient Kids Conference. One of the talks I heard was entitled Supporting the development of a resilient young person. The speaker, Hugh Van Cuylenberg, founder of The Resilience Project, said there were 3 things he discovered were key to good mental health: gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. Out of these, what he had to say about gratitude resonated with me the most. Part of being grateful is actively choosing to think on the things that are positive and be thankful for them. You don’t have to think too hard to recall grievances. Grievances can dominate our thinking and leave a bitter seed behind in our hearts. However, mentally turning to look at and look for the positive, is to choose an attitude of gratitude. 

There have been times as a mother, when I have been upset with my children when they have failed to show gratitude; taking for granted all the good things that fill their lives. Things as simple as parents that love them, nutritious food to eat each day, or the opportunities they have to learn. Having never experienced real ‘need’ they fail to appreciate the good that they have. Yet, I too am guilty of neglecting to be thankful for the daily things that bless my life. 

So I encourage you, when you think on the year that has been, look for some things to be truely grateful for. And when you are tempted to bemoan the insurmountable ‘to-do-list’ that lies before you, be grateful for the family you are blessed with that you make these sacrifices for and for the place you call home that is yours to share and enjoy.  But most importantly, the gift you have been given by a gracious Heavenly Father: his son Jesus; Immanuel. Immanuel means: God with us. A truth of which I am truely grateful for; God with me every day of the year.

Lamentations 3 vs 22-24 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”