How To Get Gratitude All Wrong This Thanksgiving

gratitude

November, for all intents and purposes, is our national invitation to gratitude month. Schools promote, pastors sermonize it and commercials monetize it.

But I sit here wondering: are you able to engage it? Is all of that push for gratitude working any good inside of you?

From personal difficulty, painful loss, maybe political upsets, there are many people who are struggling to engage in gratitude. Can I let you in on a little secret? Back when that “write down your gratitude” stuff started up and was all the rage, I felt like it was a call to put a dress on a piece of sh…errrr, feces. My life was so hard in so many categories and trying to be thankful felt like kindergarten stuff. Please, I have better things to do than think about unicorns and rainbows. I am pretty sure I had that actually thought; I am certain I had that sarcastic tone.

Sometimes the best and most life-giving thing is to be wrong.

Noticing Transformational Moments: Part 2

trans mom2

The earth here is in the transformation of long-awaited spring. The sprouting of flowering bulbs in our front yard, and the early garlic, chives, and rhubarb already sprouting in the garden. It’s early for us here in the Midwest this year, but so very welcome. The hope the earth offers as it brings new life is hardly comparable. The closest thing I can find is the hope of new life when it comes true in the soul; when we are at that place when something sprouts new. Even though small, we know it is new because, often without realizing it, we know our soul-terrain  and we have lived the barrenness of its lifeless places.

Like the earth when it’s ready with warmth, light, and water to accept new life, our souls need acceptance to grow new life from the fodder of the living we do day-to-day.

After Awareness, this is the second movement of the soul in the transformational process: Acceptance.

In fact, acceptance may even be more fluid than being a “second movement”; it may be the first, middle, and last movement of every bit of transformation. Acceptance of ourselves is the fertile ground from which new life always sprouts. Acceptance, which brings a sense of love and belonging, is inherently opposed to shame, and shame is always counterproductive to transformation. As long as we live without acceptance, we will live without transformation.

This post is Part Two of four in my Noticing Transformational Moments series. It also includes an optional imaginative experience, so these movements of transformation can take that necessary journey from learning about something to knowing it deeply inside.

Noticing Transformational Moments: Part 1

trans moments P1

Deep, soulful transformation that actually changes your life is not elusive or magical. It is work, don’t get me wrong. But it is also simple and right in front of you. With the soul, there are no formulas, but there are ways to drink from the well of transformation for yourself that will never run dry. This post is #1 of a 4-part series on Noticing Transformational Moments.

Beginning a journey toward deeper transformation is as simple as this: Awareness.

Have you ever felt like you missed your time to make a particular change in your life? I have, and when I find myself there I must make a shift, otherwise I would feel this way all.the.time. When I am intentionally aware of transformational moments daily life becomes the playground where I can slowly become who I want to become. I can more easily lay down regret and self-judgment while moving into transformation. Being in a season of young kids, healing chronic illness, pregnancy, financial setbacks, and marriage strain (because of this list!) …my regret could be the unending well I drink from. However, when I shift my awareness from regret to transformation – a shift I have to make daily – opportunities for transformation become my playground equipment. And it can be this way for all of us.

Self-Care in an age of Self-Indulgence

self care

I have an unpopular confession: Secretly…I have writhed against the whole self-care movement, as I am calling it. Unfortunately, I have not heard many convincing, gospel-centered frameworks for self-care. It can become so self-centered, so…self-indulgent. It seems to be more about watching Netflix, bubble baths, or wine and a magazine.  I must feel balanced in all my life, safe in all my decisions, and my relationships must be “working for me” or I get out of them. I view these mantras as something not only anti-Gospel, but actually anti-self-care. Let me tell you where I think I have gotten it wrong, and where I think I am on the right track. And hopefully how it can bring us all into a fuller life.