Gratitude: What Gratitude Does

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We were tromping through a dump in Manila when I first understood how much abundance I possess.

I was on my first far-away missions trip, and that day was eye-opening. In groups of two-three, we visited with the residents who lived there.

Yes, people lived in the dump. Where rancid water puddled on the unpaved roads. Where young children dug in the high mounds of trash, searching for copper to sell. Where the danger of the methane gas and the instability of those mounds could lead to death with one misstep.

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The government had built apartment buildings for some of those who lived in this place. As we stopped at apartments and visited with the people, some invited us in. One thing that stood out to me was how clean these women kept their spaces. They didn’t have much room, very little furniture. But what they had, they took care of.

Even in a dump.

I realized, possibly for the first time, how much I have been given. My home has not only one main floor but also an upstairs and a basement.

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I have a closet full of clothing, enough to have choices every day of the week. Our family has two cars, that both work. Our children attend great schools. They have opportunities to be involved in sports and Boy Scouts.

We live a stable, insulated lifestyle.

Most of us do.

And yet, it’s so easy to focus on what we lack, rather than what we have.

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My time in the Philippines changed me. I understand how little most people in our world live with. Though I saw this first hand, I still have battles with discontentment.

I love today’s quote. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of gratitude. When we are thankful for what we have? That’s when we live with contentment.

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Gratitude transforms how we view our circumstances, our possessions, and those who people our lives.

When we choose gratitude, it reforms our perspective, the way we look at our lives.

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Gratitude adjusts our focus so we see our lives clearly. Perhaps it’s true that when we choose gratitude for the hard situations—when we look for things we can thank God for in the midst of heartbreak—we can find a heart refreshed by acceptance.

When we look at the chaos in our lives through the filter of gratitude, our hearts can be set back in order. Settled, and maybe (maybe) even peaceful.

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When we can look at the hurts in our past and view them through the lens of how God has grown us as a result? We find peace because we see His hand in it.

God never promises an easy life. We’re practically guaranteed we’ll face painful events and circumstances. When we choose to view them (perhaps after the fact) through glasses of gratitude, God gives us eyes to see ways He worked in those hard seasons.

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I think Melody Beattie may be right. When we reframe our past with the help of gratitude, it offers us peace in today and presents us with a vision of how we can live differently, choose differently, in our future.

What about you? How have you seen gratitude reframe your perspective? What event in your life brought gratitude to life for you?

Click to Tweet: Gratitude adjusts our focus

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and  Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup

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23 thoughts on “Gratitude: What Gratitude Does

  1. Great post, and pictures, Jeanne!

    While I’m not grateful for an illness which is killing me slowly (not softly!), I am grateful for the perspective, and would not change the arc of my life if that meant giving up that which I’ve learned.

    I’m grateful for the ability to enjoy the small graces that come between – and sometimes concurrent with – episodes of horrendous pain.

    Most of all, I’m grateful for the friends (yes YOU!) who hold me up in prayer, and without whose support I would have given up long ago. My doctor says that without a strong will to live I would have been dead a couple of years now; my will to live comes from without, a transfusion of love.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/11/your-dying-spouse-235-caregiving-and.html

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    • Andrew, it’s beautiful that you can find things to be thankful for in the midst of horrible circumstances. You are an inspiration. Thank you for the reminder of enjoying those small graces. I am grateful for you too, friend. I’m continuing to pray for you.

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    • After I read your comment, Joanne, God reminded me something I hadn’t been content about. 🙂 I prayed about it, and I will continue to pray for contentment regarding this thing. 🙂 I hope your Thanksgiving holds much joy!

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  2. An attitude of gratitude, even writing at least three things you are thankful for daily is proven to lessen our states of worry and anxiety. And yet, I know I can resist and get complaining in my head! I’m grateful though, for the constant reminder of where contentment resides. Thank you J! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

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    • Lynn, keeping a gratitude list is such a good thing. I’ve done this for a number of years now. As a family, this is our third year. At dinner most evenings, we talk about our days and share three things we’re thankful for in that day. It often leads to great conversation and insights into our boys. 🙂 Listing our blessings leaves us with a great reminder of all God has given us. Thanks for your well wishes, friend. I hope you the rest of your week is restful!

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  3. I love this message and the photos, Jeanne. My nephew works with Children of the Promise in Haiti. Recently families lost all they have in a hurricane, and yet they’re so thankful. One woman dedicated to the children walked through neck deep water to get to her work at the orphanage, and yet she was so filled with gratitude, even though she had lost everything, too. It really made me think of all the things I have that I take so much for granted. I am learning step by step, too, that as I view all the painful things in my life “through glasses of gratitude, God gives us eyes to see ways He worked in those hard seasons.” I’m so grateful I “met” you through Mary and your series Chosen and Approved. 🙂 You have already encouraged my heart so much. Have a blessed Thanksgiving! Hugs!

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    • Wow, Trudy. Those kinds of stories inspire and convict me. I’m so glad you shared it. And thank you for your encouraging words. I’m so glad we met too! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you here and over at your blog. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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  4. That is a great quote- and it is true that we have so much to be thankful for but we can often get caught up in thinking about what we don’t have. Being intentional about gratitude can make a big difference to our perpective.

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  5. I think you’ll know what I’ll say. Barren years brought so much gratitude when I saw my daughter’s tiny feet and toes, fingers. Gratitude that I’d never have had without the drought. ❤

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    • Awww, Shelli. My heart sister. Yes, the first time I counted our oldest’s fingers and toes I think I cried. And holding our youngest the first time I fed him . . . I couldn’t stop looking at him. They are such gifts. I agree. I am so thankful for all God taught me about faith and trusting Him through my drought season.

      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!

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  6. Jeanne, what you say about gratitude in retrospect really resonates with my heart. Since adopting our older daughter, I’ve found it almost easy to be thankful for the years of infertility. I don’t say that lightly; I simply can’t imagine my life without my girls. (To paraphrase a favorite song from “Wicked,” “because I know them, I have been changed for good.”) What I never expected, though, was to ever get to a point of being thankful for the years of perimenopausal wilderness I experienced later. Now, though–just in the last couple of months, in fact–I’m finding that I am thankful even for that … for what God taught, for how it changed me. So much good truth here, my friend. Many Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours.🙂

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    • I know what you’re saying about gratitude in retrospect, Lois. I never want to go through another season like the one with infertility, but I wouldn’t change those years for anything. God did so much, grew me up, and gave me eyes to see just how much He loved me (and all of His kids), even when I couldn’t see it with human eyes.

      I hope your Thanksgiving was a joy-filled one, my friend!

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