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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

Thank You, Jesus!




Humor In Chaos

Searching for Joy Series


Thank You, Jesus!

 

It’s a bit of a challenge for me to write about gratitude right now given I am rewriting this entire post from scratch.

 

I spent hours on this chapter. I researched Bible verses, read Christian theological essays, and reread parts of my own gratitude journals to get it just right.

 

Not long after I wrote the first draft of this chapter, the laptop I was using started acting up, so I decided to scrape together the money and replace it. I asked my high-tech daughter to please transfer the completed first draft chapters including this one from the old laptop to the new one for me because I was concerned I would screw something up.

 

I am not gifted at all when it comes to technology. I do practice affirmations, but some realities simply must be faced, and we as a family have concluded that technology is not in my forte.

 

Even though she transferred them over for me, this post disappeared. The file still existed, but it was empty. I discovered it when I went in to do the second draft, which has now become the first draft all over again.

 

I am attempting to find the silver lining in this predicament. There is one. More than one. For one thing, I only lost one chapter. I did not lose the entire manuscript. Whew!

 

Second, these posts are mostly stand alone. This would be more of a problem if this was a novel since the chapters of stories flow into each other. That’s not an issue with this blog series.

 

Third, maybe God wanted this to happen for a reason. Maybe I missed something important before, or maybe He would rather I come at this topic from an entirely different direction. In that case, I am happy the original chapter disappeared. I want Him directing this ultimately, not me.

 

Fourth, this gave me an opportunity to show you in real time how I deal with setbacks like this. I decided to set the entire work aside yesterday because I was too angry at my laptop to deal with it. I needed to take time with myself to acknowledge my feelings, process through them, look for the silver linings as I highlighted above, and come at it with a fresh mindset as I am doing now.

 

This is good. I am coming at it from a different angle.

 

I didn’t understand gratitude or thankfulness for most of my life. It wasn’t until I was sick for a while that it started to dawn on me why God requests it. It isn’t for stroking His ego. It’s for my own mental well-being.

 

Gratitude feeds the fruits of the Holy Spirit in my soul. Galatians 5: 22-23 But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against these there is no law. Notice, joy is in there. Gratitude feeds joy.

 

How does it do that? For me, filling my heart with gratitude changes my perspective on everything. Gratitude is not a feeling that just comes over me when someone does me a kindness. That’s only one aspect.

 

Gratitude, like love, is a choice. It’s the decision to look for the good. Sometimes it’s easy to see. Sometimes it is next to impossible. Sometimes, like with my blog post, it needs a little time and a little practice to grow it, like cultivating a tree.

 

Early on in my divorce journey, I was coached to journal gratitudes every single day, either at the end of the day in reflection or at the beginning to set a positive mindset. I chose to do, and still do, evening reflections; and, I do a daily Bible study to set a healthy mindset too.

 

Some days were tough to think of anything. Those were the days where my journal has entries on the blue sky, the ability to breathe, or the shade of yellow on some daisies along my walk. I require at least three things every single day.

 

Other days, I write a whole page on one item alone such as the birthday party for one of my grandchildren at a trampoline park and how I am not only thankful for the love and health of my family, but also of my ability to jump on a trampoline after so many years of hardly being able to walk. Included with that entry, I wrote about how it feels to have a working spine and the feel of my hair bouncing up and down on my neck. Feeling like a little kid again along with my kids and grandkids gives me great joy. What a gift! That particular entry was long.

 

That’s how gratitude changes perspective for me. It’s a way of comparing myself to myself, and recognizing the gifts I have been given by God. Couldn’t walk – now I can jump on a trampoline.

 

We don’t know how cold we were until we are warm. We don’t know how sick we were until we are better. We don’t know how generous a friend has been until we are in great need and they are not here anymore. These were great lessons to me the years I was sick, and reminders now these years I am aging and am starting my life all over again.

 

I grew up in St. John’s Catholic Church in Hector, MN, a church community that is currently not open. That makes me sad. It wasn’t perfect, but still a wonderful Christian family. This congregation had a beautiful tradition I have not experienced in other churches. I miss it so much. When Mass was over and the last note of the final hymn was sung, the entire congregation would all kneel and say a final prayer in silence, each person their own individual prayer. When I asked my mother what I should pray, she told me to say a prayer of thanks to God.

 

For years, I would kneel and simply say thank you. I didn’t know what else to say. I would maybe say another Lord’s Prayer or Hail Mary. Whatever was in my heart or on my mind.

 

As I got older and attended other churches where people got up and left before the final hymn was done, I got a much deeper understanding.

 

There are many verses in the Bible about being thankful, giving thanks, having a grateful heart, etc. We are told to rejoice always, in all circumstances, to come into His presence with thanksgiving, and to be thankful. Practicing gratitude is being obedient to God. It falls under the first of the Ten Commandments, and the first of the two Great Commandments Jesus gave us as a summary of the ten: to love God with all our heart and soul, and make Him the center of our lives. I am paraphrasing.

 

How does God love us best? As Catholics, we go to Mass to experience the very body and blood of Jesus Christ Himself. How can anyone love us more than that? How can we not get down on our knees and give thanks for the best gift ever?

 

When I was a kid, my parents taught me that when I was invited to a party where a meal was being served to always say thank you for the meal, and then say another thank you for the invitation to the party when leaving. After all, they planned it, paid for it, prepared the food and the location for the party, and welcomed the guests. All I had to do was take part and enjoy.

 

My grandmother took it a step further and taught me that Mass is a holy party we get invited to every day. We don’t all go every day. Hopefully we go at least once a week as Catholic doctrine requires. When we do, we are welcome, and we are fed spiritually and physically. When I go and have Eucharist, I say thank you twice. I say thank you for His sacrifice immediately after I consume it, and again when Mass is over when I thank God for inviting me to His table where He feeds me. I continue to thank Him for the many blessings He has given me in my life such as my children and grandchildren, supportive family and friends, the gifts of joy and resilience, and whatever else is on my heart that day.

 

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

 

There were times I was not feeling grateful. My heart was cold, shattered, and full of fear. Reasons for gratitude required me to look outside of myself. The coaching I got through my separation and divorce gave me the direction to look for it.

 

They directed me to keep a daily journal, something I used to do as a teenager. I journaled daily thoughts, feelings, and activities; the three gratitudes I mentioned above; and a list of positive affirmations until I finished the page.

 

One of my three gratitudes at the end of today will be me finally completing this chapter for the second time.

 

The affirmations are self-descriptions for myself, characteristics I want to have, and personal goals. A way of programming myself. For example, I mostly write “I am…” statements.


I am patient.

I am kind.

I am loving.

I am empathetic.

I am completing this first draft by the end of this month.

I am competent in ASL.

 

Are affirmations biblical? They can be when they are based on prayer and Scripture, especially when based on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Here are more of my affirmations.


I am thankful.

I am joyful.

I am wise.

God is teaching me daily to be a better mother/grandmother.

I have an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.

I pray every morning before I step out of bed or touch my phone.

I am a child of God.

I am listening to God’s directions.

God is using me to share His love with others.

 

I have the ability to program myself to be a better Sarah, Christian, prayer warrior, vessel for Christ, mother, grandmother, wife, etc., anything God intends for me to be. God gave me the ability to grow and evolve through the directions He gives me. As long as I am listening to Him and obeying.

 

I keep a separate journal that is filled with Letters to Jesus, My Best Friend. These are letters I write where I allow myself to tell Him my deepest truths, thoughts, feelings, and things I wouldn’t dare tell anyone else. My deepest secrets, both good and bad.

 

An unexpected blessing of keeping these journals is it allows me the gift of seeing my own growth through time. If I ever feel stuck in a mindset, I can look back and see my healing trajectory.

 

Healing from traumas is never an easy path. It has the ups and downs of a roller coaster. There are boring parts, scary parts, and fun parts of the ride. We can either hold on to the bar for dear life, or we can put our hands in the air and enjoy the thrills. God commands us to embrace it and be grateful we get a chance to ride. Gratitude is a necessary ingredient for true everlasting joy.

 

I think I have hit the save button on this chapter at least a dozen times. Thank you, Jesus, for the save button on my laptop so I don’t have to rewrite this post yet again. Amen.


Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!

 

Sarah

Humor In Chaos


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