Gratitude Through the Ups and Downs
27 Nov 2016
By: Rachel Brown
November is a month of thankfulness, causing us to sit back and really contemplate the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Here at Wonderfully Made we strive to thank God daily for all He’s done for us, but we find ourselves in a particularly thoughtful mood each year when Thanksgiving rolls around. We know that it’s easy to practice gratitude when things are going well in our lives—when we’re in an exciting new relationship, when we get promoted at work, when we turn in a particularly difficult assignment, when we get to take a wonderful vacation—but we’ve started focusing on intentionally practicing gratitude all the time, even when the going gets tough. As you might expect, this is a challenging adventure to embark upon, so we’ve gathered some tips and tricks for getting us into the habit of expressing thanks no matter what season of life we find ourselves in.
Remember That Everything Is Beautiful In Its Time
My favorite verse is Ecclesiastes 3:11—“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” This poignant reminder has helped guide me during dark days when it seemed that there was no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. This verse officially became my mantra during my senior year at Pepperdine University. I had been in a serious relationship since my freshman year. My boyfriend and I had discussed marriage, but things had started changing between us over the last several months—we cared for each other like we always had but we both started wondering if we envisioned futures for ourselves that didn’t include one another in them. I was running on the beach one afternoon a few months prior to graduation, thinking about my future as a young professional and also in terms of my relationship. I candidly asked God, “What am I supposed to do?” A thought popped into my head immediately, one that I knew was from God: “It will present itself to you.” I ran on, frustrated, wondering what that was supposed to mean.
The intention behind the thought was revealed to me a few short weeks later when my boyfriend and I suddenly broke up. Even though things had been rocky, I was totally caught off guard and incredibly heartbroken. While reading my Bible one day, I stumbled upon Ecclesiastes 3:11, a verse I had read a thousand times but had never stopped to soak in in its entirety. But now the verse took on a new meaning for me; it represented encouragement and hope in a time that felt bleak and painful. He would, I realized, make everything beautiful in its time—not in my time. God had painted a beautiful picture for my life, and only He knew exactly how the timing was going to play out. I realized that I needed to practice patience and exercise trust, being grateful for the present moment and especially thankful for a God who so clearly had me in the palm of His hand. Looking back now, I know that God gave me that lovely relationship in college to help prepare me for my incredible husband, the man I was meant to be with from the beginning. God knew we needed time to mature into the adults we are today so that we could serve and love each other in the sweetest ways possible. There have been (and will continue to be) so many moments just like this one, moments where I’m reminded that everything will be beautiful in God’s time.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
We bet you’ve heard this tip before, as it’s a ubiquitous piece of advice when it comes to practicing gratitude, but that’s because it’s truly such a great way to keep thankfulness at the forefront of our minds. Whether you splurge and buy a pretty notebook where you can write down your thoughts or simply keep a list running in the notes section of your email account or phone, the act of documenting the things for which you are grateful will help you realize all of the goodness in your life, even if the days feel long and hard. There is always something we can be grateful for—fresh air, clean water, a warm bed, a home-cooked meal. Look for joy in the little things, and write them down—it will be refreshing and invigorating to reflect upon them on days that are difficult.
Send Love Notes
Take the time to be intentional with the people you love by sending them a note that expresses your adoration for them. Use this opportunity to pick up some fun stationery and stamps and actually put pen to paper to tell someone how much you care about them. Email and text messages do the trick, too—the key is to be sincere and direct. Though it’s a wonderful thing that telling people we love them is so commonplace, sometimes the depth of the phrase can unintentionally be lost due to the frequency by which we use it. So if we’re using technology to convey our feelings, let’s make sure we’re thoughtful and intentional in our comments, citing a specific reason why we love the recipient of the messages so much or reflecting on a special time we shared together. Expressing gratitude for our relationships will help us be thankful for the goodness inherent in our everyday lives.
Photo Cred: Hoang Viet
Rachel is the Director of Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband, their adorably large English mastiff, and a new baby girl, Ruby.