Are you so ready to move toward joy?
Are you ready to discover who you really are?
In this final week of The Mended Heart study, all week we are moving toward joy.
But first, let’s ask this honest question:
What about those days that it seems impossible to find joy?
You choose gratitude instead.
What does that look like?
My friend, Leslie Vernick, is an author and a counselor.
She describes a Sunday morning, where a family with several small children sat behind her in church. They ran up and down the length of the pew. They were noisy and distracting.
Leslie needed the words from her pastor that day and strained forward to listen.
The longer that the chaos behind her went on, the more irritated she began to feel. The longer it went on, the more angry she began to feel.
As a counselor, Leslie teaches that a person and their feelings are separate.
We may feel angry, but that doesn’t mean we have to be an angry person. We may feel impatient or uncertain or irritated, but that doesn’t mean we have to be a chronically impatient or uncertain or irritated human being.
Don’t you love that?
That morning, Leslie began to put into practice her own words. She closed her eyes and engaged in a small dose of gratitude therapy.
Thank you, God, that this young family is in church. It must have been hard for them to make it here with these little ones. Thank you, God, that I can be here, worshiping You with others. Thank you, God, for parents who try so hard to teach their children about You. For if this is exhausting for me, how much harder it must be for this young mom and dad.
This completely shifted her perspective from “I’m feeling irritated” to one of appreciation, which flipped her attitude upside down.
But Suzie, my issues are so much bigger than distracting children in church!
It’s the therapy that is the heart of this story, not the size of the problem. Not too longer after hearing this from my friend, Leslie, I had an opportunity to practice it.
I was feeling frustrated and feeling angry after an awkward and unsettling encounter with a loved one.
I started to silently thank God for this person.
I mentally listed the qualities that I loved. That brought up an image of a time when this person had done something that made me joy-filled.
That led me to thank God for other little things, which had nothing to do with the encounter or the person. Like dinner simmering on the stove.
Thank you, God, for providing for me.
Like the butterfly bush outside the front door that was blooming with purple, fragrant flowers.
Thank you, God, for such beauty.
To be honest, I was blown away by the change in my emotions and perspective. Yes, I had some stuff to work through with this loved one, and it wasn’t fun, but now I could do that from an entirely differently place emotionally.
Gratitude, when expressed even in the hard places, leads toward joy.
Even if others aren’t grateful, we are at peace inside.
This week’s challenge is to practice gratitude therapy. It won’t feel natural in the beginning, but our goal is to hold up open hands for all that God has for us.
And that includes joy.
Read Chapter 9 of The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.
Q: John 16:13 says that, “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” In what ways might this Helper lead you from your feelings to joy?
Q: Describe a situation, like Leslie’s above, where gratitude therapy might change your perspective, and even you.
As you read Chapter 9, share your questions here or privately.
Celebrate those moments where you are seeing life differently, or you sense growth spiritually or emotionally. Let’s be sure to celebrate together!
Thank you to B. Drake Photography for the use of this beautiful image.