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I am not writing this because I have mastered this concept. It is my aim to live like this more and more every day. But I do know people who have mastered this spirit. They are not the wealthiest people I know. They do not have the skinniest bodies. They have lines and wrinkles. They probably did not win a place on the Homecoming court. And they don’t get on Facebook for three weeks in November quoting something they are thankful for every day (not that there is anything wrong with that). They simply LIVE every day, every moment, and every breath with a thankful heart. They have a thankful spirit that is present in the most amazing experiences and through the worst of trials. They are not just thankful for the good things/people in their lives, but they know how to be thankful for the things/people they don’t have in their lives.

How can we move to living a life with a thankful heart? A group of my peers talked about the value of a gratitude journal. Something you keep by your bed so you can record all the things you are grateful for to remind yourself in the seasons you don’t feel grateful for anything. That seems very practical for my brain and I do this, but not consistently, so I am not so sure how well it’s working for me. But maybe that will work for you?

I have added one thing in my life that has really made a difference. I meet with a friend every single Monday morning to go on a hike. The hike takes us 90 minutes and in that time we share about life. It’s a way to start the week with a forced focus on mental/physical/spiritual health. When we talk, we allow the other to speak into our life from the perspective of what God’s Word promises us. We try not to play therapist to each other (although we slip into it at times), but we simply try to remind each other who God says we are, what He has done for us and what He can do. Because we have an established relationship, we are completely allowed to be authentic and honest about our ‘wrestle time with God’, and we are able receive these reminders more like manna from heaven than judgment or lame platitudes.

It’s like the difference between joy and happiness. One is an internal attitude and one is dependent on the moment at hand. A thankful heart goes to the source that does not go dry. I encourage you this season to focus back on God. Sit in His presence. Read His Word. Get to know the sound of His voice. Create a space for Him in your heart. It doesn’t matter if it takes a journal, a hike, a bible study, or a Christian therapist to help you do this. Just find the one that works for you.

Be thankful with me this season. Not for what we have or don’t have, but for whom God has called us to be. Be thankful that He did not mess up creating us (no matter how much WE mess up) and that His outstretched hand is never too far away.

Renée Rizzo