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Search Google or Pinterest and you will find several dozen articles telling you how to raise grateful kids. To be fair, that is an important aspect of parenting, but I believe moms need to work on this as well. If we want to know how to cultivate a heart of genuine gratitude in someone else, we must start with ourselves.
Recently, my husband and I had a conversation discussing when and how to teach our son to say sorry. We don’t want to force him to say sorry for many reasons. Since he is only 2, we decided an appropriate way to teach him at this age is modeling an attitude of contrition.
In the same way, if I want to raise a grateful child who is not entitled, then I must model genuine gratitude.
I can’t force my son to feel gratitude any more than I can force him to feel sorry. Both are internal and connected to the heart.
At the end of a long day trying to potty train a toddler, it is easy to feel grateful when he falls asleep! It is hard to feel gratitude in the midst of real, messy life. Last week, I talked about finding our fulfillment as mothers in Christ (Read more here!). For a Christian mom, the mundane should be anything but. The mundane is an opportunity for worship.
We find purpose in motherhood, by using the mundane as an opportunity for worship. In Colossians 3:17, Paul tells believers to do everything in the name of Jesus. He continues by saying “giving thanks to God the Father through him.” One of our acts of worship is showing gratitude to the One who deserves all praise.
Romans 1:21 says,
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
A sign of an unrepentant heart is one that does not put God in His rightful place. It does not thank Him and is not grateful for who He is and what He has done. This heart is proud, viewing itself as higher and more important than its own Creator.
I am currently reading, None like Him by Jenn Wilkin (affiliate link). She discusses the attributes of God – the characteristics He has revealed about Himself that set Him apart from all of creation. Mama, you need to soak in rich theology like this. You need to set your eyes on God, learn about His wonders, and praise His beautiful name.
If you are a believer, you should know this. But, let’s get more practical. How do I show gratitude and give God thanks while changing yet another dirty diaper?
How to Cultivate a Heart of Genuine Gratitude
I know I have already spent a lot of time talking about this, but it is key. We can follow a three-step checklist, but, ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the only One who can change your heart. Seek God. Pray. Read the Bible. Read books that contain good, true theology (again, I highly recommend None Like Him). Listen to sermons about the character of God and the truths of the Gospel.
Talk about it
What are you thankful for? A roof over your head, your children, financial stability? Whatever it is, tell God how thankful you are for these blessings! In addition, speak in a way that is grateful. Talk about your many blessings in front of your children. Tell your husband that you are thankful for being a hard worker (or whatever characteristics you appreciate). If someone does something meaningful for you, go out of your way to thank them for it.
A believer should be characterized by grateful speech.
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:4
Make a list
If you are finding it hard to incorporate grateful speech into your day, start by journaling everything you are thankful for. In your daily gratitude journal, you can list the attributes of God, His promises, and answered prayers. Even if they were hard to learn, are there any life lessons you are thankful for? List your family and friends. Add to this journal as often as possible.
In preparing for this post, I came across a blog with a beautiful 30 days of gratitude chart. Click here to access it, especially if you are struggling with what to journal about.
Having Gratitude During Trials
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
If life is hard right now, take hope. As believers, we look to a future glory. No matter your earthly afflictions, God is still good and sovereign. We have a future hope for which to be thankful. Rest in these truths. Preach them to yourself and your family.
How do you cultivate a spirit of Thanksgiving in your heart and in your home? I would love to hear about any traditions your family has to bring the Gospel into this holiday!