Gratitude: Our Way Out Of Life’s Traffic Jams

As the holidays officially kicked off with Thanksgiving this week, I started to think about why gratitude is worth celebrating every day of our lives and not just one day a year.

Well, actually, it was when I was in a 2 hour traffic jam that I started thinking about this… but let me backtrack a minute.

During a recent talk for a women’s group, I shared ideas for thriving in the midst of stress and helping our children do the same.

Everyone was tuned in, probably more than anything because we all had the holidays around the corner and we all know how stressful this season can get with events, relationships or even grief over loved ones we’ve lost. The sense in the room was “How do I get through this as a woman AND parent my children through it all?”

We talked about things we can do to combat stress physically, emotionally and mentally. But at the end I shared how hope is our most potent strategy during times of stress. Hope in God’s promises. Hope in His ultimate victory. Hope that whatever is stressing us out will end at some point!

Then, this week as I drove home from a visit to my sister’s house in Ensenada, Mexico, we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in the line to cross the border. The tension began to build in my neck. I noticed I was breathing shallowly, fear mounting about how the next few hours would be with my four kids in the van, stuck in traffic. I was officially stressed! Oh yay, I thought, an opportunity to practice what I preach!

Then I realized something that I hadn’t connected in my talk when it comes to stress: hope is built on being thankful. The whole point of Thanksgiving is to think about what we’re grateful for. I know we could all quickly rattle off a dozen things for which we’re grateful. But if we spend a little more time (time, for example, while we are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with rowdy kids) and really put our minds to it, the list is literally endless. As we spend even a minute or two thinking about it, our mood shifts. I believe that is the living proof of God’s promise:

“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation [help] of God” (Psalm 50:23). Don’t know about you, but I could always use a little more help. And if I can do anything to welcome it more in my life, I’m there!

Our choice to thank God in every circumstance honors Him and allows Him to show us His work in our lives. It reminds us of all He’s done for us so far, and builds hope in good things to come. Isn’t that what we want, more than anything else during the holidays and whatever hectic or intense situations accompany them – to know God is there with us, helping and walking along with us through each moment?

As we continue into this holiday season, let’s commit to choose thanks. Every time we do, it will bless God as an offering aroma sweet as that of pumpkin pie baking in the oven. It will model God’s will to our kids. It will bless our relationships. And it will fill our holidays with hope.

So let it loose! What are some things you’re thankful for?

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