I just spent a few spectacular days with some of my family at a place we all love. The weather was picture-perfect, the food great and fellowship top-notch. Included in the bunch were my sisters and their families, my daughter, her husband and my grandchildren. It is hard to describe how good it felt to be together. I found myself being filled to the brim and tremendously grateful for the depth and breadth of our relationships and history with one another— the celebrations, the victories, successes, failures and the overcoming, surviving kind of stuff. I wouldn’t give any of it up. It’s made me and ‘us’ who we are. I am thankful, but all too aware that those feelings can be so fleeting. It is so easy to slip back into focusing on what is less than perfect in life, the on-going sources of frustration, and the like. Recently I was listening to Dr. Michael Youssef preach on prayer, with a specific focus on King David’s conversations with God. They characteristically demonstrate a posture of adoration and thankfulness. David loved and worshiped God no matter what the circumstances were in his life, and there were numerous challenging and even ugly moments. I was reminded that I sometimes approach God with my laundry list, ending with a quick “amen,” and was convicted. I do believe that God wants to hear the desires of our heart, but if that is all our prayers contain they fall far short of what our Heavenly Father desires from us. Put simply, I don’t want to just be a ‘taker’. I found myself determined to be more intentional to come to God to say thank you, to be grateful, to simply abide with Him. I also want to resist the urge to stay resentful or angry when an injustice, hurt, loss or disappointment occurs, as those patterns are sure to keep me from intimacy with Him. I recently heard of a man struggling with bitterness and anger toward his ex-wife. It was consuming him. He did something that would facilitate an attitude adjustment. He changed the password on his computer to ‘forgive her.’ Every time he logged on he had to type these words. In a month, his negative feelings began to dissipate. He took responsibility to change rather than blame God or his ex-wife, or just as bad, wait for someone else to fix it. His decision on how to handle a painful situation is a great reminder of how our choices, more than anything else, lead to outcomes that will benefit, not hurt us. Gratitude and forgiveness – words worth contemplating.

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