It’s November, the month that those of us living in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday reminds us to give thanks for our blessings. In my own life, I’ve been working to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.” As my attitude has shifted, I have noticed a much higher level of contentment in my life! Life definitely isn’t “perfect”–but it is all a blessing!
I came across an email sent to me nearly 2 years ago. This email was packed to the brim with encouragement that I needed today! It was prophetic, if you will. I remembered the basics of the email and searched for it, seeking the treasures found within. Even now, 2 years later, the inspiration echoed.
I sent a “thank you” email to the person who had sent the email! I pray that they will be encouraged and built up by my act of thanking them! I wonder how many other people they have encouraged and will encourage?
You never know how much it will encourage someone to hear how they have encouraged you! Encouragers can get tired. Sometimes those who give encouragement rarely receive encouragement themselves. It’s important to make others aware of how they have impacted our lives! Gratitude is so important for our own state of mind, in addition to refreshing the people who have touched our lives!
If someone gave you a word to change the course of your life 10, 20, even 30 years ago…Reach out! Thank them and tell them how they changed your life or your mindset.
If a friend helped you last week with something seemingly small…Say “thank you!” Tell them why you appreciate them.
If you’ve never thanked your parents for the sacrifices they made raising you…Say “thank you” and let them know how they shaped you to be who you are today.
You could say thank you with words, some homemade baked goods, a card, an email, flowers, taking them out to coffee, a spiritual bouquet …The possibilities are endless!
Your “thank you” could mean more than you ever know!
The gifts of singleness? You might be tempted to shut out of this post now. Bear with me. I’m on the single journey too. I know there are very difficult days. There are aspects of singleness that are consistently difficult. However, today we will focus on the gifts. Despite the pain, there are always positive aspects to be found. Finding gratitude helps to keep a positive attitude and live in the blessings.
So, what are some of the gifts of the single life?
The single life can more easily be devoted to service/ministry. As a single person, it is
easier to live a life of service or devoted to ministry. I can think of many occasions where I was able to go help a friend due to my single state. A mother with little ones can’t drop everything to help a friend. A spouse must think about how their service work or ministry will impact their marriage and family life. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34: “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” Truly, living single-heartedly for the Kingdom is much easier as a single person! The time and space to build an unshakable relationship with God is a huge blessing of the single life.
The single life provides a degree of freedom that married people don’t have. This can mean travel, more time to invest in writing or other projects, and of course, ministry or easier ability to do mission work. It can also mean greater availability to invest in relationships with members of your faith family, blood family, friends, and even people you may serve as a mentor to. I enjoy the flexibility of singleness. I don’t need to check in with someone else (or multiple people!) about my calendar but can plan as I wish! It is simple. I also find a bit of financial freedom despite the single life meaning only one income. At least in America, many people have debt. Getting married can mean double the student loans, car payment, and credit card debt to manage. (Note: I don’t believe debt is normally a good thing. Unfortunately, it is the reality for many Americans.)
A single life is one with a single person’s problems. One could also argue that marriage is easier because it gives you another person to sustain you in trouble. However, two families bring two different dynamics and two different sets of troubles-plus the troubles within your own home and marriage. Additionally, the stressors of being a parent can be overwhelming for anyone. Add special needs to the plate, helping a child through bullying, or trusting the Lord to provide for the family when the economy is bad–parenting is painful! Learning to love your spouse through the times when they are not at their best can also be difficult–such as if a spouse is diagnosed with a mental illness or facing their troubles from the past. The troubles of a single person pale in comparison to adding a spouse, their family troubles, and children’s struggles as well! (Though I know singles look forward to pouring out love in these circumstances–we have a bit of a break now!)
A longer single life provides more time to attain wisdom, life experience, and clarity about your calling(s) and the direction of your life. Had some of us married younger, we may have missed out on certain aspects of ourselves. These aspects may very well be important to a marriage and perhaps even a shared ministry! For example, during the past decade the Lord has confirmed to me that Africa will continue to play a part in my life. Thus, if I had married someone lacking a love for Africa, I would have missed out on a huge joy and part of my life. I know now that the Lord has someone for me who will be willing to live in countries other than the USA. In His infinite wisdom, the Lord has given me more time to discover these aspects of my calling. I believe it is the same for you, if you have been waiting longer than expected!
Don’t lose heart. There are gifts in the season of singleness, just as there are deep struggles.
Live joyfully in the gifts of today, and you will be able to better receive the gifts of tomorrow.
“I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”~1 Corinthians 7:7
Have you discovered any other gifts in singleness that were not mentioned here?
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever.”~Psalm 136:1
Have you ever felt displeased with your current circumstances? Have you ever wished that things could just turn around? They will, my friend. God’s promise is true! Yet, we must learn to be content where we are.
Praise Him, and your discontent will melt away! You’ll be amazed as you remember the blessings and His faithfulness in the past. He has done it before, and He will surely do it again!
Lately there have been times I’ve been discontent. But when I remember to praise, the realization of how blessed I have been washes over me! I have seen how much my Heavenly Father loves me as I call to mind the wonderful things in my life. I get stuck in the discontent and focusing on negative aspects. Praise leads me back to joy, gratitude, and the arms of my Heavenly Father!
In the USA, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. Focus on your blessings! Once you get started, it’s often hard to stop. Praise Him and grow closer to the One who loves your soul, and has given you so many good gifts!
Praise will lead to gratitude!
Have you ever hoped to find a prayer that brought all the elements of the day together? I would definitely suggest the Examen! This prayer helps you to review the day by seeing God in all the happenings, finding forgiveness for failings, and discovering the attitude of gratitude. This prayer has been immensely helpful to me and many others throughout the ages.
Check out my article at Ignitum Today about the Examen. You can also look here for a simple explanation of how to pray the Examen.
Had you heard about the Examen before reading the post? Have you ever prayed the Examen?
(This post came from my old blog, and has a few additions.)
For over 10 years, I’ve consistently kept a journal. I plan to do so for the rest of my life. Journaling helps me vent during the tough times, celebrate during the good times, and see the interesting in the in-between times.
You can keep a journal for many purposes: prayer requests, your prayers to God, your feelings, events of your life, dreams, important conversations, thoughts on life, and anything else you can think of. The journal pictured is one I used in the past, and greatly benefited from. Below is a picture of the front page for each day. There is a place for the weather, events of the day, where you are spiritually, what you are grateful for, people you are thinking about, and more. The next page is blank for other musings.
(This journal can be ordered online here: http://journalsunlimited.com/shop/inspirations-a-gratitude-journal/)
I definitely recommend journaling to everybody. You may not consider yourself a writer, but no one else needs to see your journal. It is purely for you. (Of course, you could also write prayers–so maybe you and God.) It’s not something you need to do every day, either, but could simply be a solace in dark times to pour your heart out. You could also simply write positive happenings and moments that you want to look back on. In my opinion, journaling can be a great avenue for emotional health.
This woman uses her journal as a prayer journal to write Bible verses and encouragement as art. I love to look at her Instagram from time to time and see what she has come up with:
What are the benefits of journaling? Here are a few that I’ve found. For each person, they will be different.
1. It is a positive way to process emotions. If you are angry or sad, writing is a healthy way to process your thoughts. For good situations, it is also a great way to celebrate these happenings. When you are in the midst of making decisions, writing down your ponderings each day can help you see patterns and come to a conclusion.
2. It is a way to track your growth as a person. You can look back at old journals and find ways you’ve positively changed. On the other hand, sometimes you will see other changes that may not be so positive, and figure out how to get back to a good spot. You could use your journal as a way to set goals.
3. Journaling is a great way to relax. Spilling your thoughts on paper is a great way to unwind at the end of the day, or to prepare for a new day. It might even be a good “siesta,” a way to take a break mid-day.
4. Your journal is an avenue to see God’s hand. Journaling is a beautiful, tangible way to look back at situations and see how they have evolved. How good God is, and how wonderful and amazing are His ways! Looking back at old journals and the situation now, I can see the change and that God has answered my prayers!
What are your thoughts on journaling? What benefits have you seen from journaling, if you are a journaler?