Today I am very excited to have a quest writer. My friend and fellow blogger, Monica of Afrotasticlady, has supported me countless times before I even had a blog. She allowed me to guest post on her blog back in January and featured me again recently. I knew once I had a blog, she would be the first person I would ask to be a guest. Today, Monica writes about a topic that she often blogs about, gratitude. It is a beautiful, faith filled post that has already encouraged me!
At my church, we will occasionally have a time where church members can testify. The member can sing a song, recount a personal story of God’s healing, or do both. When I was a child, my dad would often stand up and open the hymn book to page 272: “Amazing Grace.” His hands would shake and his voice sounded lovely. He was passionate in his singing, because he had encountered Jesus’ power in his life. Gratitude spilled out of him.
I have been hearing about the concept of gratitude since I was little. Yet, being raised in the Church does not preclude me from gaining new knowledge. Fortunately, I have been learning about the nuances of gratitude since November 2015.
In remembrance of Thanksgiving, I recorded a vlog called “My 6 Grateful Things List.” It was a 5-6 minute video where I talked about how I was grateful for music, food, my classmates, etc. As much I love to write, I also enjoy being goofy in front of a camera. It is another way to express myself. After talking with a friend, I decided that I would post a monthly edition of “My 6 Grateful Things List” on my blog.
Every month, I acknowledge the small and the large blessings. The half off Starbucks S’mores Frappuccino is as noteworthy as the survival of grad school. In highlighting the Starbucks drink, I am seeing that I saved some money on a usually pricey beverage. I am noting that I had the money to buy it. I am realizing that I was able to drive in my car to the nearby Starbucks coffee shop. My small blessing becomes a multidimensional gift.
When I show gratitude for what I have, I am extracting the gold from the dirt. Even as Christians, our lives are not devoid of hardships. The loss of a loved one, the break-up of a long term relationship and the breakdown of a car are some of the dirty situations that consume us. My favorite person in the Bible, Paul, experienced numerous trials such as being beaten, arrested, and shipwrecked. In Philippians 4: 11-12 (NIV), he said:
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Paul commented that he had “learned to be content.” Hence, Paul was not born “content.” He underwent a process to achieve contentment. With God, he plucked out the gold. He knew that even if he lacked resources, he possessed life. God’s breath filled him up. Like Paul, I am growing. My capacity to be grateful is increasing each day. I have found folks who are increasing in their levels of gratitude too, as I do not believe one should pursue growth by themselves.
I have been blessed to discover other faith writers/bloggers such as Mia Writes who remarks on what she is grateful for on her daily Periscope broadcasts. She has committed this entire year to becoming more grateful, and through her journey she has met other women of God who have the same desire. In her broadcasts, she has confirmed to me that gratitude is not about ignoring the trials or the pain. Gratitude is about allowing God to have our pain and noting the positive parts of our lives.
On my own gratitude journey, I have realized that it is not always easy to see the beauty in my life. When I turn on my television or stare at my smartphone, I am overwhelmed by the violent occurrences in the world. I can recall a day in which I was strolling in my neighborhood, and I thought about what could happen to me. Could a stranger interrupt my life with a bullet? Then, I realized that I did not to want to contend with constant fear of my life. My mind had to return to gratitude. I needed to praise God for waking me up in the morning and for His protection throughout the day.
“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62: 1-2 (NIV)
Gratitude transforms my viewpoint from superficial to spiritual. I see that life can be chaotic, but that God’s goodness infiltrates me at the same time. I choose to rely on God, my fortress.
Friends, I would like to end this post in prayer, as I hope that you will develop more in your understanding of gratitude.
Thank you for being the Lord and Savior of our lives. Thank you for being good, loving, and merciful. I pray that You help us to thank You for what You have done for us. To thank you for providing us with food, shelter, family, friends, music, and other necessities. I pray that we will grow in our levels of gratitude. That we will recognize that it takes time to learn how to be grateful. That we learn to be patient with ourselves on our individual journeys. I pray that we will be grateful for both the small and the big things. That we will find a community of like-minded people; of people who are yearning to be more grateful for what they have. That we will help each other in finding the gold in the dirt. I ask all of these requests in Jesus’ name! Amen!
Monica “afrotasticlady” Vance is a graduate student, writer, blogger, and naturalista. She blogs about faith and life at afrotasticlady.com. When she’s not being frugal, you may even see her drinking a specialty coffee from Starbucks. She also embraces community, so feel free to chat with her on the following social media outlets:
Love, Naomi Noel