Christmas 2016: a time of gratitude
It has been a glorious Christmas season for our family! Not because we did everything I hoped we'd do, but because I have felt a heart full of gratitude. Perhaps it didn't start that way. We were considering buying a different home for our family. But none of the homes at that time were coming together very well for one reason or another--we were too slow on our offer or we ended up not feeling right about it or had trouble communicating with the seller. Long story short, I began the season feeling very frustrated! Frustrated because I felt like we were trying to do the right thing, and it just wasn't coming together quite right. Have you ever felt like that?
We were praying all along through the process. Praying that the Lord would guide us. Then the first Sunday in December came. We call the first Sunday of each month Fast Sunday. It's a day that we fast and make a monetary offering of two meals (plus some). We go without food or drink and give to those who do not have means to buy food or take care of basic life necessities. We fast to help those who are struggling, but we also fast to put off our physical appetites in order to be filled with faith--especially as we fast for a special purpose. The purpose of our fast is very personal. Often I have fasted on behalf of someone who I know is struggling with health or otherwise. Sometimes I have fasted for myself as I'm trying to make a big decision or as we seek blessings for which we feel are appropriate to fast.
Anyway, as the day progressed, I felt an indescribable peace, joy, and gratitude wash over me! An absolute fullness and contentment for what the Lord is doing with my little family. For how He is guiding us. I even felt gratitude that none of those homes were right for our family. For the moment, we are where we need to be living.
Since that experience I have reflected over it a lot. I am learning several things from it:
God expects us to use our agency (or capacity to creat/choose) the life we want to live. I really feel like He wants us to use our minds and be brave and do the things we desire to do!
As we are prayerful and trying to move forward with good things in our lives--He will help guide us by either going down a path and realizing it's not right, or helping us to discern. He allows us learning experiences because we are intelligent beings and He wants to help us grow.
Gratitude is a key to happiness. That little phrase is easy to pass over quickly, but I have found that the truth behind it is profound. When I overlook my blessings and the abundance around me, i don't feel very happy inside. But when I do recognize my blessings quickly and frequently, deep joy and contentment fill my heart and life.
Seeking God consistently in our lives helps us to recognize blessings that we otherwise wouldn't be able to recognize. I believe that gratitude is also the key to an abundant life--because when we recognize God's generous hand in our life (and no matter our current circumstances, His hand is always generous) our blessings multiply before our eyes. I'm not sure how it works, but it does.
Gratitude fills us with joy! And that feeling of absolute gratitude has not left me this entire season. It has filled my very soul and made every little thing more joyful.
I am grateful beyond words for Jesus Christ--the purpose for why we celebrate this season. He reaches out to each of us in absolute love and mercy and long-suffering. I am grateful for Heavenly Father's patience with me as I learn. Life is such a learning process! Praying your Christmas season has also been one filled with gratitude and love. xo