As I enter into 2017 I find myself more introspective than normal, perhaps. I am reminded that this is the year I will turn 70, my oldest child is rapidly approaching 50 and my 6th grandchild will be born in about 7 weeks. Whew, where has life gone? While I would like to think I am the same person I was decades ago, too many body parts remind me this is anything but true. I’ve come to accept that this is part of God’s preparation process getting me ready for perfect health, joy, communication and relationships that will never end. When you think about it that way, being an “alien” here is really not so bad after all – is it?
But January 1st isn’t about reminiscing, it’s about looking forward, making resolutions and preparing for what God has ordained for “such a time as this.” To do so, it is imperative to maintain the “attitude of gratitude” we have discussed on previous occasions. Being mindful of that attitude and making sure it is a constant part of your mentality takes time and maturity. If you don’t feel grateful right now, I understand – circumstances may seem overwhelming, challenging and unfair. That’s to be expected during multiple seasons of your life. Yet, please take my word for it, those seasons are preparing you for your attitude of gratitude. Let me tell you why.
When I grew up, I wished I was wealthy, because we were poor by today’s standards. Yet once or twice a year I got a new pair of jeans and a shirt or two like most of my friends. What I did not realize at that time was that we, as a family, were rich in culture, faith, love and discipline. My ingratitude for what was really valuable created an ungrateful spirit. Yet God was patient – because of my family’s commitment to Him.
After High School, I wanted to be recognized – I wanted to do something big and leave the small-time aspects of life behind. Being so self-centered kept me from finding mentors, listening to them, learning from them and applying their wisdom to my life. My passions for more and better ruled my life, so I abandoned the true God and revered and pursued physical prowess, beautiful people, wide exposure, wealth and education, hoping to find something to be grateful for there. I didn’t realize I was in the process of feeding what would become multiple addictions.
What we all must embrace are Paul’s words in Philippians 4:11 – 12 and 1 Timothy 6:6 and learn to be content wherever we are, because there is a reason we are there. The reason is simple – growth and development. The more you attain, acquire or succeed at the more you will want and the more you will take for granted. Becoming addicted to success is one of the most challenging aspects of Christianity and it is why Christ said what He did to the rich young ruler. He was addicted to the good life – and the good life is often where we find ourselves slipping, falling and making fools of ourselves most. It is definitely the most stressful lifestyle I know. (Ecclesiastes 5:10 – 17)
It’s when we are down that our eyes look up. It is when we hit bottom that there is only one new direction to take and that is toward our God family. It’s a time of valuing what is really important: Basic necessities, love from family and friends, health, gaining wisdom with age, learning from mistakes, education, music, special moments, traveling, but most of all, waking up each day with over 2000 promises God gave you in His word. That will make you grateful and be the basis of your attitude of gratitude.