Having a “grateful heart” or an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the most significant lessons that I have learned in my 17 years of existence. My parents taught me that everything that I have—experiences, people, stuff—is a gift from God, not an entitlement. As far as my memory can go complaining has never been tolerated by either of my parents and whining was always a sure fire way to get myself a discipline and a good dose of “Madam Blueberry” (if you don’t know what Madam Blueberry is, you had a sad childhood). Mom and Dad, by drilling me to say “please” and “thank-you,” showed me that I was to receive any service or gift with thankfulness. It is because of those seeds planted in my mind and heart by Mom and Dad that I know what it means to have a genuinely grateful heart.
Compared to most in our world my family has had it incredibly good financially—we have always had a home, food, clothes and have been blessed by extra unneeded things and experiences (i.e. sports, speech and debate, electronics, appliances, books, movies et cetera). That said, it has not necessarily been easy for our family, on the contrary there have been times when we’ve struggled greatly. However, those times of insecurity made the lesson of thankfulness straightforward and very real for my siblings and I.
Really, I should not expect to get anything in this world because I don’t deserve it. What I do deserve is an eternity of Hell. Perspective, eh?
Yet, there is not a day that passes where I do not want something (not necessarily a literal possession) that I cannot have. Gratefulness is not a one-time deal. Christianity is not for quitters, and every day is a discouraging battle against my sinful self who is fighting to get me into a self-absorbed state of pride and entitlement.
How to win? Well, gratitude is a direct result of what Christ Jesus has done for me on the cross. It starts with HIM.
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT)
- Start my day with prayer, and start that prayer with thanking God for whatever comes to my heart—a friend, a family member, an experience, a lesson, a piece of his creation that touched me.
- Read the Bible faithfully. Nothing gives me food for thought like Scripture, and how can I think of myself when I’m reading about Jesus or having the Proverbs scream at me to get out of myself!
- Call on the Holy Spirit to convict me throughout the day.
 Okay, complaining is a whole other discussion that I’d love to get into some time…eventually. Quickly though, I don’t think that there is anything with expressing frustration with a situation or a specific desire or anything. It is when complaining becomes ungratefulness that there is a problem. 🙂