Here we are again. Another Thanksgiving with our plates full of the foods our ancestors created to nourish the soul. The air is full of colorful language, hearty laughter, and the smell of cinnamon wafting off the sweet potato pies. It’s such a familiar time spent with friends and family. But for some people, this is the start of a cold and dreadful season of loneliness, isolation, morning, and regret. And with the transitions that have taken place this year, it’s no wonder that some of us are having a heart time focusing on gratitude instead of grief. As we prayed about the season we felt led to share fives ways to cultivate a grateful heart and rediscover joy this season.
Be Real with Yourself
Say it out loud with us “I do not have to wear a mask.” A lot of times we try to save face. We shield ourselves and the people in the world from our inner torment. But before you can cultivate a heart of gratitude you have to get real about your pain. If your hurt, mad, embarrassed, or ashamed you have to take a moment to acknowledge how you feel between you and God—even if you’re angry with Him. He knows and can handle everything about you. However, if our hearts are filled with bitterness there is no place for His joy. Express yourself, open your heart, and allow healing to begin.
You’re Not in This Alone
Too often we think we are the only ones suffering. You’re not the only one that lost a loved one, that’s lost a job, or just ended a relationship you thought would last forever. In reality, we all know that. But because we are going through the situation by ourselves we are suffering in silence. Silent suffering leads to self-sabotage and abuse in our minds with the interruption of the truth. To get over this find someone to talk to. Yes, that requires us to leave our comfort zone, but sometimes that what it takes to be comforted from someone that’s been there. Which brings us to the next point.
Talk with a Familiar Friend
It does the soul good to connect with another human being. It does have to be deep. But it must be authentic. Call the friend that always makes you laugh. Talk with the grandma who will give it to you straight. Spend time in the presence of a drunk uncle (it is Thanksgiving after all)!
Find Something to Smile About
A smile brings strength to the soul ya’ll. Think about it when you see someone smile it lightens up your day. Imagine what it’s like from the inside out. In order to truly smile we have to move past our pity party and think about what we truly enjoy. What is it that you love. If it’s not in your environment...use the phone you’re reading this on, go to youtube and search it. Want to see the beach google it. Find a smiling kid. If dancing is your thing blast your music and dance the problems away. Even if it’s through tears left your lips curls and show off your teeth. Then go to the mirror so you can witness how beautiful you are when you smile.
List Out Reasons to Be Grateful
The last key to cultivating a grateful heart and finding joy is to think of all the things you have to be thankful for. This is the fun part because no matter what’s going on currently you have so many things to be thankful for. You can be as general or specific as you want. But the more detailed you get the more you see just how much God has done for you. Here a few thought-starters you’re alive, which means it’s not too late. You can still receive your healing, you can mend your broken heart, you restore your relationships, and you can beat the odds. Your car is broken? Be thankful your legs can still walk? Are you sitting in a wheelchair? Your imagination can still do backflips. Just like there is always something to be upset about there is always something to be thankful for.
We know, life can be hard. But ultimately God has you covered. He’s got your story all figured out. Spoiler alert: you win. So even in times of transition, process, storms, or whatever you are going through we ask that you focus your energy on the joy that strengthens you instead of worry and anxiety that wears down your hope. With that being said, we love you, we’re grateful for your life, and we pray you have an amazing Thanksgiving, fam!