Gratitude (& Awareness)
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” --1 Thessalonians 5:18
Mindfulness is the practice of accepting our lives exactly as they are without having to change anything. It is gratitude—not as an emotion to be manufactured, but as a basic acknowledgment that each moment of life is enough, no matter what our experience. Some moments are pleasant, some unpleasant. Some are painful, some are filled with joy. Through all of our moments, we have what we need. It is resistance to our experience—the belief that life is not okay as it is—that takes the normal pain of life and multiplies it into suffering.
Scripture is infused with thanksgiving to God for all of his gifts to us, even in the midst of suffering. It is easy for us to focus our attention on what we do not have, to “complain in all circumstances” rather than give thanks. And yet God’s will for us is to give thanks. A prerequisite for giving thanks is seeing the gifts that are before us. Mindfulness is a tool for opening our eyes to what is in front of us. Through mindful, nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, our eyes are opened to see the beauty and goodness in each moment of life. When we see God in his creation, moment-to-moment, our hearts naturally respond with gratitude and joy. Awareness of God’s world leads us to gratitude.
"...slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life. A lifetime of sermons on ‘thanks in all things’ and the shelves sagging with books on these things and I testify: life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time."