How to Cultivate A Heart Overflowing with Gratitude
This morning, I had the pleasure of listening to a message by Pastor Joel Osteen in which he spoke about developing the practice of remembering our past victories. He stated, “Our past victories serve as fuel for our next challenge.”
As I listened, my heart swelled with gratitude as I considered all the times in my life when I experienced the mercies of God beyond what I imagined was possible in my life.
Remember Your Past Victories
I thought about the time shortly after my mother died when I was 13-years old and I found myself deeply depressed and heartbroken because I didn’t see how I was ever going to be able to live life without her.
But the goodness of God didn’t let me stay there. Through a series of intuitive hunches, I realized that I had the power to choose which thoughts I would focus on regarding my mother’s death. Instead of focusing on what I had lost, I chose to focus on my mother’s strengths and the fact that because I was her daughter, strong had to be in my DNA. And with this shift in my story, I began to develop and cultivate a self-concept about myself that inspired my “I Am Strong” identity.
Little did I know that the loss of my mother at such a young age would serve as the foundation from which I would build my strong identity and my faith walk with God.
As I thought about the various seasons in my life when I felt stuck, such as when me and my two children were living in a subsidized government apartment and living off of government assistance, and when I stayed in a domestic violence relationship because I accepted someone’s low opinion of me as a fact, to when I didn’t see how I was going to move beyond the mental and emotional hell that I experienced after the unexpected loss of my 14-year old son, Blease, I remembered how in each of these moments, I was able to tap into a greater measure of God’s mercies and get my life back on track.
Although, we would love to think that our lives will follow a straight and narrow course, most of us know that this is rarely the case. Instead, we’ve found that life provides each of us with circumstances we don’t particular like, and, some of which we downright hate. This is common experience for most of us.
While it is certainly okay to not like or even hate a particular experience, Joel’s message resonated within me this morning because I know that for each heartache, disappointment and adversity that I have ever faced in my life, the process of moving forward required that I shift the story that I was telling myself about the event, as well as shifting my focus on past victories.
It has been through the practice of “Remembering to Remember My Past Victories” that I am able to shift my story, shift my energy, and expand my awareness of opportunities that are often hidden because of the anger, frustration and anxiety that are influencing a distorted perspective of my circumstances.
There is NO Limit to the Goodness of God
If you are experiencing a difficulty that you may be feeling is too much for you, I challenge you to take time to replay your past victories. Remember the times when you were in the right place at the right time and you experienced the goodness of God’s mercies.
Remember the times when you went down a path that wasn’t good for you, yet, through the goodness of God’s mercies, you were able to get your life back on track.
Remember the times when you felt alone and someone called you out of the blue and how that unexpected call helped you to feel that someone cared about you and that you weren’t alone.
Remember the time when in the face of your fears, you took action that led to positive change in your life.
Remember your victories. As you do, you will find like myself, your heart will swell with gratitude as you recognize with humility the hand of God on your life.
Be in AWE of God’s Goodness
As Joel Osteen stated, “Don’t let what was once a miracle in your life become ordinary. Don’t lose your awe for God’s goodness.”
Being in awe of God’s goodness recognizes his divine hand on our lives. Being in awe of God’s goodness fuels our faith and trust in his power and presence in our lives, regardless of where we find ourselves to be. Being in awe of God’s goodness encourages us to embrace the new he has for us with humility and boldness. Being in awe of God’s goodness creates a sense of appreciation within us and our heart overflows with gratitude for what we’ve overcome as we move forward to expand the territory of our lives.
Being in awe of God’s goodness reminds us that in each moment of our lives, we have the power to tap into a greater measure of his presence, power, peace and provisions. So, instead of focusing on our problems, let us talk about the goodness of God. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, let us be appreciative of what we do have. Instead of taking our past victories for granted, let us allow them to fuel our faith in our capacity to be more, do more and achieve more. Let us live a life that is a testimony of the goodness of God.