After ten years of marriage, my husband and I hit a rough patch. We couldn’t get on the same page. Things were tense. One evening, he asked me to go off by myself, think about our current situation, and re-listen to a recent sermon. I begrudgingly headed to Starbucks, frustrated by his ask, but reminding myself that a latte and time alone was worth it.
Even though it still bites a little fifteen years later, my Starbucks excursion turned into a defining moment for me. The previous week, our pastor, Andy Stanley, used the story of the ten lepers from Luke 17 to speak on ingratitude. In that story, Jesus heals ten lepers, but only one comes back to thank Him. I’m pretty sure you can guess which leper Bruce felt I resembled. Let’s just say it wasn’t the one who returned to express his thanks. Ouch!
I began to see what Bruce was getting at, but I wasn’t ready to admit it, so I did what most of us do when we want someone to take our side…I phoned a friend. Much to my chagrin, my friend didn’t come to my defense or fill my ear with clever one-liners I could use to tell Bruce he was wrong. Instead, she gently and lovingly told me that if my husband cared enough about this to brave bath time and bedtime alone with three kids under the age of five, then he was probably on to something. And I needed to take responsibility, acknowledge my shortcomings, ask for forgiveness, and learn to say thank you.
Recognizing my ingratitude was a big pill to swallow. All these years, I assumed Bruce knew I was thankful for him and all he did for our family. I thought it was implied. But he needed more than that to feel loved and appreciated. He needed to hear me say thank you and mean it…which helped me realize that other people probably did too. Now, fifteen years later, after lots of intentionality, saying thank you is a habit. Even if it’s for something small, just in case my immediate response didn’t reflect my gratitude.
As we approach Thanksgiving, make sure you’re expressing gratitude to those closest to you. Too often they are the ones we overlook. They’re also most likely to feel the sting of our ingratitude.
If you need a jumpstart on your journey towards gratitude, start by watching the sermon that helped me develop a more thankful heart – watch it here.
Here’s to a season full of gratitude!
On this episode of Jennie Allen’s Made For This podcast, she interviews author Ann Voskamp. The discussion is a really helpful table-setter as we begin to set our minds towards Thanksgiving. The biggest takeaway was Ann’s great advice on displaying gratitude towards people we may find difficult. Listen to it on your next walk or run, or when you’re out running errands, you’ll be glad you did!
The holidays are stressful for many of us. Lots of planning, details, and people go into our holiday traditions. Pairing that stress with the high expectations we have for ourselves is a recipe for disaster. Paul David Tripp wrote a devotional plan we highly recommend for this time of year. He urges us to take our eyes off of ourselves and instead look up and focus on the God who created us and the grace and contentment He alone freely gives.
HOST A HOLIDAY SOCIAL FOR YOUR GROUP
With the holidays fast approaching, take some time to put a social event on your mentoring group calendar. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant, just something that creates space for your mentees to build community and reminds them you are invested in their lives for more than just once a month. Small relational investments go a long way towards building deep and authentic relationships. (And if you’re not currently leading a group, consider reaching out to a previous group and continuing to invest in those relationships)
Developing a heart of gratitude takes intentionally. It’s important to record the things you’re thankful for, not just right now but throughout the year. Here is a journal page we created to help remind you to take time out and express gratitude for the people and blessings in your life.
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