5 Ways to Practice Overwhelming Gratitude
By Kate Berkey - November 22, 2017
Posted in Stories from NMC
On Sunday, Pastor Dave took us knee deep into this idea of Overwhelming Gratitude. This, week many of us will gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving. We will gorge ourselves with that classic Midwest cooking and fight over the last slice of pie. We will recount people and moments we are grateful for, but by the end of the day, we will begin to look forward to the next holiday.
On Friday, November 24, it will be socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music. Stores will be open for Black Friday, ready to sell Christmas gifts. The Christmas season will officially begin, but it’s one that has become rather self-focused.
So what does overwhelming gratitude look like in a season marked by this? How can you, your family, and your friends continue to celebrate with overwhelming gratitude? Here are five creative ways to express gratefulness throughout the entire holiday season.
A Tangible Reminder
We’ve all seen those signs on Pinterest or have created one during Thanksgiving. People finish the prompt, “I’m thankful for…” and this sign hangs in a home on Thanksgiving Day. The sign becomes a physical reminder of the things we are grateful for.
What if you and your loved ones created an “overwhelming gratitude” list that hung in your home during the entire holiday season? In the rush of the morning, what if you took a moment to write one thing you were grateful for? The list would grow day after day, a tangible reminder of the many gifts from the Lord.
When Christmas is over and we ring in the New Year, don’t throw the sign away. Keep it somewhere in your house, somewhere you can continue to add to it. Or store it somewhere, and pull it out to remind your family of God’s faithfulness. Looking at it years later, you will be overwhelmed with gratitude yet again.
Write a Note
So often our gratitude centers around a person, something they did for us, something they said, a way they loved or cared for us. Sometimes these things go unnoticed or without thanks. This holiday season, what if you set a goal to write one card a week to say thanks? Who are the people who have greatly impacted your life in the last year, in the last month, in the last week, in the last day?
Write out why you are overwhelmed with gratitude for that person. You don’t have to write a novel. Simply express why you are thankful. Not only can you share your gratitude, but you can also spread some much needed encouragement to those who have deeply encouraged you. Just think, your note could be the encouragement someone needs to love others the same way they loved you.
Very little shows the overflow of gratitude in our lives more than acts of service. Have you noticed that the most meaningful moments of serving others have come when you acted with a grateful heart? Gratitude spurs us on to do wonderful and kind things. It turns the focus away from ourselves and onto others.
What would it look like for you to serve others—family members, friends, people at church, coworkers, local organizations like FCDC or Faith Mission, or our regional partners in South Bend, Gary, and Chicago? Acts of service show others that they are seen, valued, and appreciated. Maybe it’s time to set words aside and use your actions to communicate your deepest gratitude for those around you.
Hey mom and dad, this is an incredible thing to do as a family. What if you set up a time to serve as a family, or what if you challenged your kids to serve someone in your family at least once a day until the New Year? How could serving together or serving one another change your family’s culture for the better?
Mark the Simple Moments
Do you ever get stuck in a rut? Life is routine. It’s waking up, going to work, coming home, eating dinner, enjoying the evening, going to bed. More times than not, the next day looks strikingly similar. It can be so easy to miss the little moments of joy and gratitude throughout the day.
So here’s the challenge. What if you spent 5 minutes every morning or evening to write down 5 things you are grateful for? They can be big things. They can be little things. Somedays you might find yourself grateful for the silliest things. Write them down, and remember that joy and gratitude can be found in every day no matter what circumstances you face. At the start of the new year, look back over that list, and let your mind remember each moment. They were all gifts.
Build Memorial Stones
In the Bible, we see the Israelites mark moments of God’s faithfulness with stones. It seems like they were almost always creating altars or monuments to remember moments of deep gratitude. These monuments became permanent reminders of what God had done and the overwhelming gratitude felt by the Israelites because of His faithfulness. Often people would walk by them and recount the stories. These stories were told generation after generation, forever tracing the history of God’s goodness.
What are the stories that need to be marked in your life? What are the stories that need to be remembered and never forgotten? Marking these moments may look different than building memorial stones. It may look like a simple object set up around your home or displayed in your bedroom. It may look like building something together as a family. Whatever your object is, mark the moments of God’s faithfulness in a way that is tangible and visible, that invites people to tell the story over and over again.