The Lens of Gratitude
Family time presents wonderful opportunities to spend true quality time together and to refresh ourselves with grand spiritual views. Through the lens of gratitude, we see more clearly the goodness that underpins our lives.
Categories: Gratitude, Gratitude (Thanksgiving)
There's nothing quite like August for reuniting with family after weeks of summer fun and before the start of the new school year. Often this month includes concentrated family time – at home, with relatives, or on vacation together. And generally, the month wraps up with each individual heading off in a different direction to work or to school. As such, August is a perfect time to regroup as a family and, in the process, to refresh everyone's spiritual perspective.
Giving gratitude tops the list of things to do when family members reconnect. Whether children are returning home from summer camp, or extended family members are arriving for their annual visit, or parents are taking time off from work – in every instance, we can thank God for His gifts of joy-filled activity, fun, adventure, and friendship.
Spending time together should feel good, especially after time apart! Everyone has grown in different ways, which should add interest and fresh views rather than lead to discord or impatience. We should treasure the new instead of pine for the old, the outgrown. In so doing, we're shoring up our spiritual perspective – putting it into practice and reaping the blessings of happy, productive, and peaceful times together.
Through the lens of gratitude, we see more clearly the goodness that underpins our lives as we share our stories and recount the critical moments. Our spiritual view enables us to recognize that each challenge or crisis we faced actually forced us to think more deeply before we acted – to pause and pray before pressing on. This is the true substance of our stories, and it's what we can be most grateful for in their retelling.
Gratitude also paves the way for establishing a new daily routine as a family. School and work schedules may dictate how we spend certain hours of each day. But our spiritual perspective establishes the tone and the approach to our activities and to each other. Oftentimes, we forget to connect the dots between summer's lighter heart and carefree thoughts and the rest of the year's duties and obligations. Let's make the connection now.
What keeps the connection strong? Here are several key components for maintaining our spiritual perspective:
- Reflecting on all that we've learned and acknowledging the growth in ourselves and others
- Recognizing the true substance of what we've been doing – the qualities we've been expressing through each activity
- Looking for ways to continue to express those qualities in our non-summer lives
- Feeling a greater, deeper connection to the source of these qualities – to God
- Taking time each day – more than once! – to stop and be grateful for the evidence of God's love, protection, and guidance
- Turning to the Bible for examples of people who
- expressed gratitude in the face of "odds" against them (like the Shunammite woman or David the Psalmist);
- cherished one another as family (like Ruth and Naomi or Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha)
- proved the value of maintaining a spiritual perspective (like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego or Job).
Family time this month presents wonderful opportunities to spend true quality time together and to refresh ourselves with grand spiritual views. Let's build on what we've come to value this summer rather than store it away like summer clothes for the next several months.