I struggle with being grateful. That’s not to say I have nothing to be grateful about. I’m well aware that I have so so so many things to be thankful and happy for.
There are moments of clarity where I am able to just genuinely enjoy the now. For example, sometimes my cat will run up to me meowing with his tail straight up and it just makes me smile that such a simple creature knows how to love up on me so naturally. I stop what I’m doing and just enjoy his purring. (Which by the way, I read somewhere that cats purr at a frequency that helps heal and strengthen bones. No idea if that’s true or not, but I like to think that it is!)
After moments like that pass, I’m right back into stress mode where I’m worried about all of the church-related things that are coming up. I have anxiety about what people think of me, if I’m doing enough, and how in the world it’s already November. I graduated seminary in May, and then all of a sudden I looked up and now there are Christmas decorations in Walmart.
Life’s weird, man.
I’m surrounded by good things. Lots and lots of good things. I am married to the best woman on the entire planet, we are able to pay our bills every month, I am saved by grace by a loving God, I never have to worry about missing a meal, I have consistent friends in my life that love me, I have an incredibly supportive family, and yet – I struggle with going through each day with gratitude.
I don’t have a solution for this. I’ve tried doing gratitude journals probably in 3+ different formats, and I’ve failed each time.
Don’t get me wrong – I have a lot of moments where I’m feeling completely fulfilled and am genuinely happy, but I allow the stress and worry of upcoming events to gain primacy over my gratefulness. It’s a weird fight that no one teaches you about when you’re in school.
I’m fully convinced that anxiety for the future is not of God. I am aware of this verse (and others like it) in Philippians 4:6-7, but I still don’t feel the reality of what it calls for.
Here’s the quote for context:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I want so badly for God to “guard my heart and mind in Jesus,” but I don’t feel that way all the time.
So here’s what I’m gonna do. Right here and now as I write this, I’m intentionally choosing to believe that this verse is true, even if I don’t feel thankful or grateful. Simultaneously, I’m rejecting my anxiousness for tomorrow (literally tomorrow, because as a new pastor, I’m still getting used to what the new normal on Sabbaths feel like for me).
I want to ask you to join me in this battle. Let’s do a prayer together.
I want so badly to break free of this anxious fear of tomorrow. I know you care for me and love me, so please please replace my anxiety with thanksgiving. Show me just how much you love me because I’m yearning to love you back. There are some days where I just want to lay in bed all day because I feel so apathetic, but I’m choosing you regardless of my feelings. You tell me to pray in every situation with thanksgiving, so here I am God. It’s dumb to mention, but I’m thankful for indoor plumbing and for fuzzy cats. So, God, the rest of the verse is on you. I’m /expecting/ that your peace which goes beyond any understanding will guard my heart and my mind in Jesus.
I can’t wait to feel the peace that you promise. Amen.
Jonny has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009. He is currently a youth pastor in the North Dallas area.