April 15, 2014

...much rather write a song about it.

Today's post is written by songwriter, author, singer and friend of FUMCR - Celia Whitler.

I would love to say living a life of gratitude daily is easy but it is much easier for me to write a song about it.

One of my favorite quotes about gratitude is from John F. Kennedy, As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words but to live by them.”  I’ve always believed gratitude played a huge part of my life.  I sometimes can see all I have to give thanks for in my life but more than give thanks, I know that the time I am grateful each year, each day, each moment, is by the way I’m living gratitude.  Gratitude has been said to have molded and shaped the entire Christian life not merely by emotions and thoughts, but by actions and deeds.  I understand that as people we are to be grateful. I have glimpses of gratitude when I sing the song For the Beauty of the Earth or Hallelujah with our Lives and I am reminded.  When I receive an act of kindness, no matter how small it may seem, unexpected or sometimes even undeserved at the time, I’m reminded.  When I see God at work, the Spirit on the move, Jesus’ words lived out, I’m reminded.  When I see a breathtaking sunset or hear the words whispered in my ear, “I’m sorry,”  I’m reminded.  Countless other moments bring me to realize how thankful, grateful and in awe of deep real gratitude I am ... and then it’s gone! I’m on to the busy, the distracted, the pace of a world and life I’ve chosen.

Robert Emmons,
a world leading expert on gratitude says gratitude is a virtue and we should devote more energy to cultivating an attitude of gratitude.  That we should consciously practice gratitude in our lives.  One thing Emmons points out that I love and struggle with is that sometimes it is the concept that gratitude is difficult for some of us because it requires us to recognize our dependence on others... to humble ourselves and become a good receiver.  I agree as I am a much better giver than receiver.  But I believe gratitude must be both.. the giving and the receiving for it to be an integral part of our lives. One cannot exist without the other.

I learned when I studied the word gratitude, that there are two basic thoughts about gratitude.  First, there is a state of gratitude, a feeling or emotion we get.  Second, there is a trait of gratitude, how frequently people actually feel gratitude.  And I believe there must be a third, a dedication of gratitude, a way of living grateful.  We must be set apart by the way we choose to live a life of gratitude.  To dedicate my life to gratitude means for me, to make it my sacred purpose to devote wholeheartedly and earnestly to recognize and live gratitude in my life.  When I do so, I find the presence of God in all things. I find the sacred in the small gifts both received and given. I begin to see life in abundance rather than a life of scarcity.  That full or empty, I’m grateful.  In dark difficult times or joyous times, I’m grateful.  When I have little or more than I know what to do with, I’m grateful.  It’s the choosing; I ask God to strengthen me when I falter, to remind me when I forget, to help me not only sing this song in my life but most importantly, live the song of gratitude and to that I say Hallelujah!

See more of Celia in action on her YouTube Channel - Celia Whitler Music

This post was originally published in the April/May 2014 edition of the First Connections Magazine by FUMCR.  
See the latest issues here!

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