“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
November marks the month to give thanks and publicly acknowledge our blessings. Right now on Facebook, people are sharing one post per day telling the world what they are thankful for. I am glad we are choosing to fill our news feeds with something more substantive than what we ate for dinner or the costume our cats wore for Halloween. Knowing we are to rejoice with others and vice versa, how beautiful would it be if we publicly expressed gratitude like this in every season?
Thanksgiving, with all the wonderful traditions surrounding it, is a man-made holiday, but the thankfulness it encourages is what the Lord tells us to cultivate every day. Our children will learn from our examples of gratitude. Children, after all, are much like adults—just smaller, smellier, and simpler versions of their full-grown counterparts—and they pick up on our true attitudes. Tone of voice and body language speak far louder than words alone; a “thank you” given in a sour tone of voice is not much of a thank you at all, is it? So, how do we express true gratitude that extends beyond the surface-level “thanks” in the lives of the little people we are raising?
1) See the glass half full. This world is broken and we are broken—but we are in Christ and know He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. When the days seem dark and the valleys look like they will never end, continue to look to the Lord to be your source of strength, and praise Him still. Allow your children to hear you say that God is bigger than your circumstances, and proclaim that He is sovereign. Help them grow a positive spirit that looks for the goodness of God even when life seems bad.
2) Say “thank you” often and genuinely. The more you give thanks, even in the smallest of things, the more thankful you become, and your children will see that. Notice the people around you. The cashier at the grocery store, the parking attendant at church, and the janitor walking the halls all deserve acknowledgement and thanks for the work they do. In fact, why not go one step further and give them a small token of appreciation? A dollar store trinket is a simple and affordable way to pass on a present to someone who would likely be shocked and feel gratitude in return.
3) Share your gratitude for your children. Telling your children you are proud of them and their accomplishments is good, but take a soul-building opportunity to tell them how grateful you are that God made them and that you have the opportunity to know them. When we remind them they are God’s creation and not ours, it not only teaches them Scriptural truth, but it teaches them that we see them as much more than children. It teaches them that every life is a gift and that it truly is our privilege to know God’s people. Let us not forget that the children we are raising may, by the grace of God, one day be our brothers and sisters in Christ. How incredible is that?
There are so many ways to grow in gratitude and teach our children to do the same. Do the obvious: spend time with God in His Word. Journal when you get the chance, or if you’re not a fan of writing, start with putting one good thing on the calendar that happened that day. Talk about the high and low points of your day around the dinner table; this exercise shows kids the power of sharing a personal testimony and teaches them to give thanks in all circumstances. The little things we do now add up and become bigger things tomorrow. Gratitude will not only transform your life, but the lives of those God placed in your care.
Thankful for Grace,
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