Happy Thanksgiving! It’s the culmination of our tweets and status posts and IG selfies listing all the things that make this hard life sweet and good and worth it.
This is an exercise we do, right? And that’s okay. It’s good to remember what we have and why we should actually be thankful – feel thankful – all throughout the year, not just when the leaves start dropping and the turkey comes out of the oven.
But – well I know this is true for me – being grateful seems to be somewhat of a struggle a lot of the time. For all the reasons I don’t even have to list here – because you know.
Jeffrey and I were talking about a few nights ago, and just a few people came to mind who seem truly, undeniably, grateful almost all the time. It made me wonder how do they do that? I don’t know, because it certainly isn’t something I’ve mastered yet. But I know how to recognize one!
Seven Characteristics of Grateful People
- They are Content
This is more than just looking around and taking note of all the good things in their life. Grateful people have a depth of contentment in their own set of circumstances, in blooming right where they are planted and sticking things out for the long, long haul – without letting bitterness take root. And without looking at the greener grass on the other side of the fence.
- Their Focus is Outward
When I talk to one of these Grateful People, they almost never talk about themselves or their own circumstances. Instead, they are always asking about others, seeking to encourage, help, comfort, or come alongside me or others around them.
They pray – really pray – for the needs of others as part of their daily life. They give their time and energy to helping others .
- Their Strength is Upward
I’ve witnessed these individuals giving their time and energy for others – not because they have it to give. Some of them have health issues that cause pain or weakness in their body. Some of them work long hours. Some of them are helping to care for an elderly loved one several days a week. Some have large households to manage. But they focus outward and they give out of a heart that is somehow refilled supernaturally… and a Strength that is not their own.
- They Don’t Get Caught up in the Past… or the Future
Admittedly this is where I get tripped up the most. I try to hang on to the girl I used to be or the places I used to live… or I get antsy for the next season, the next adventure.
But Grateful People seem to have learned how to leave the past where it is, and not reach their hand forward to what hasn’t been given yet.
- They Have Suffered
This is more than going through a lean season and then being thankful for plenty. This is more than having hope deferred and then having that prayer finally answered. Every truly grateful person I know has suffered deep loss. A tragedy. A death. A disease. Or even a combination. This is one Jeff and I can understand a little. There is a sweet closeness to God that we have only experienced through suffering when we learned that our little Rebecca had Trisomy 13… and later when we had to say goodbye to her and walk our other children through that…. when you suffer a valley like that, the good gifts around you come more clearly into focus. More cherished. I have never been more grateful or felt more blessed than when we were in that deep valley. Grateful people have truly suffered.
- They Choose Joy
Grateful People seem to know there is only one thing they can really control in life: their own response. Their own attitude. Grateful People have escaped the disease of Entitlement, and they understand it’s a blessed broken life. And they choose to be joyful in whatever moment they are living.
- They are Worshippers
With each truly grateful person I know, this is really key. I can’t talk with them for more than a half hour without hearing them talk about how the beauty or goodness or faithfulness of God. Their life has a light about it that kinda makes me think of Moses coming down from the mountain with his face glowing. You just see it them. Even when you see the brokenness and weakness in their body or their circumstances, you see a light and a sweetness that only comes from spending time loving on God.
After thinking about all this, it made me really grateful to have people like this in my life who are such genuine examples. I think I’m going to commit to praying for each one of them and see if I can come up with a way to do something thoughtful for them.
What do you think? Would you add to this list? Do you have someone in your life who shines with a grateful heart? Share with us in the comments…
And… Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope you are well, and surrounded by those you love. <3