The Gift of Gratitude

It is not a fun thing to take a child shopping when all they do is whine and cry and want everything. I have friends who never shop with their children because of this phenomenon. My son Noah used to do the same thing. He loves toys and getting surprises (as most kids do). Well, we had reached the point where shopping with him had become a complete nightmare, until my husband and I came up with a plan. We call it “A day to buy something.” We started a star chart and let Noah (and now Ava) earn stars through things like cleaning their room and helping Mommy. Then when they reach a certain number of stars they get “A day to buy something.” I can’t even tell you how this has changed my kids and their attitude. They don’t wine and cry in stores. I can even take them to Toys R’Us just to walk around and have fun! I just simply tell them before we enter the store that this is not “A day to buy something,” and, if they see something that they love, to remember it for when they can buy something. We leave the store without tears or fits, and it has enabled me to take my children shopping and actually enjoy the experience.

Now, the other day we had “A day to buy something.” My kids were so excited as they plotted what they were going to buy. I always keep it under a certain amount, but I have also discovered that one purposeful time of shopping every two months or so with your kids is way less expensive than continually “impulse buying” just to keep them happy. Hey, does that sounds familiar from yesterday’s blog? Maybe it works for adults too. 🙂

Anyway, Noah and Ava both chose their toys, and were so excited. However, about an hour after I got home, I heard Noah crying in his bedroom. I ran into his bedroom thinking that he had been injured, but no… he was crying because he has changed his mind about what he bought. He didn’t want it anymore. Well, you can be assured that didn’t go over well with me at all. I immediately realized I was looking at a child who a) needed a nap and b) needed a lesson on gratitude. So that started me thinking about gratitude.

If gratitude affects my heart so much as a parent, how does it affect my heavenly Father’s heart? The bible tells us that “God loves a cheerful giver”, but I think he loves a cheerful receiver as well. He is very concerned with where our hearts are. I know that there is a flow of grace that is released in gratitude. As you thank God and praise Him for everything that He has given you, your heart changes. The yuckiness of discontentment leaves, and in that place of gratitude, contentment comes. Gratitude can radically change your outlook on your circumstances. If you catch yourself continually complaining about your circumstances and wishing you had something else, I think it might be time to let your heart be changed through gratitude. Begin to thank God for what you have. Thank Him for your body, for your children, for your family, for air to breathe. Thank Him that His grace is sufficient for any situation that you might be facing. Thank Him that He is always working things for your good. Thank God for His strength in your weakness, His abundant provision in the face of any need. Rejoice in your circumstances, right where you are. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:20, “In everything, give thanks.” This is not just a child’s lesson, this is a radically empowering position of your heart.

There is an old saying, “Gratitude equals wealth.” There is definitely a flow that is released as you begin to voice your gratitude. I think part of that equation is that as you remember the faithfulness of God and begin to position your heart in gratitude, you will feel wealthier, no matter what your circumstances. So, if I’ve “caught you” this morning, crying in discontentment over your circumstances, it’s time to remember God’s goodness, and “forget not all His benefits.” Begin to cultivate gratitude in your life, because when my kids are grateful, it makes it so much fun to give to them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if our heavenly Father feels the same way… He is still going to bless you because of what Jesus did, He is still going to take care of you because He loves you and He has promised, but when you have a heart of gratitude, I think He just loves it and it makes it more fun for Him to give to you. Your next “Day to buy something” may just come a little sooner, or you may just find the joy that He always intended for you in what you already have.