Several times in the past months, I have shared with friends and clients one of my key principles for life. I discovered it years ago while reading The Hallelujah Factor by Jack R. Taylor.
To describe it simply, this practice centers around the focus of gratitude. It changed my life by flipping my mindset.
Many followers of Ann Voskamp learned about her practice of gratitude journaling through her book 1000 Gifts. Ann dealt with her depression by listing what she was thankful for each day.
Journals became more popular with an almost cult following. Multiple followers found solace in listing their daily gratitudes. It was a practical way to “give thanks in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Anne Lamott also gave credence to the gratitude practice in her book, Help, Thanks, WOW: Three Essential Prayers. As Anne wrote, ““Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.”
But my discipline is different and sometimes more difficult to pinpoint.
My gratitude practice flips the motivation and becomes what I call, “Say it forward.” Before God answers a prayer, before I see the results, before the end happens — I speak my thank you’s.
In the darkness and gloom of winter, I said, “Thank you, God, that spring and sunshine will come soon.”
While dealing with a hip injury, I prayed, “Thank you, God, that you’ve already healed me and promised that recovery will happen.”
Even now, when the world feels chaotic and so out-of-balance, I repeat, “Thank you, God. You are the One who can change everything. Someday, this earthly mess will be over, and we will live in peace with You.”
By focusing on the “future” gratitude and saying it forward, my mental image changes from negative to positive. Light illumines the darkness. Belief in God’s miraculous self reminds me I do not have to figure it all out.
Do bad things happen? Of course. So I say it forward — far into the future. “Thank you, God, that even though my young cousin died, I will see her again. She is safe and happy with You.”
“Thank you, God, that even though my niece cannot find formula for her baby, You can keep the little one healthy and make a miracle happen.”
“Thank you, God, that You give strength each day to the Ukrainian people. And even if they lose everything, You can restore it.”
The practice of Saying it Forward merges a please and thank you. It gives the problem to the only One who can truly solve it.
And even if the problem continues for a while, I can thank God for the strength to live with it.
So give it a try. Say it forward. Believe and receive the joy of finding hope in the Hope-giver.
©2022 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
For a devotional thought about Saying it Forward, check out Day by Day: Hope for Senior Wisdom, page 83.