The Gratitude Tree

The Gratitude Tree

During this season of working at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there is a constant mixture of emotions. There are moments of fun and joy when, as a family, we are able to take a few minutes to eat lunch together outside in the sunshine or take a quick walk. For us, there have been a lot of these types of moments sprinkled throughout the previous few weeks.

There have also been many moments where tension arises because of the chaos in this season. There are times of anxiousness and frustration. There are times of incredible amounts of noise because our children are playing, running around, or even arguing. These tensions seem greater mainly because of the limitations we have today and the uncertainties of tomorrow. I know I am, at times, feeling incredible and then there are times when I feel incredibly overwhelmed. If you were honest about your personal perspective during this season, what types of emotions would come up?  

I walked into my kitchen the other day to grab a cup of coffee, and I saw a six-foot-long by two-foot-wide painted tree on paper. It was a simple art project that my wife and daughter were working on together. As I walked through the kitchen my first thought was, “What is that for, and why is it laid out on our table? Was my daughter, with my wife’s help, making a table runner, and if so, why?” I literally asked my wife, “What is that for?” and she said, “It’s our Gratitude Tree and it needs to dry.” She proceeded to explain that every night before we put the kids to bed, our family is going to trace our hands on green construction paper and write something that we are thankful for. Later that day, once this painted tree was dry, she went ahead and hung it on a door in the kitchen so it would become constantly visible.  

It has been so helpful to force myself to stop for a moment toward the end of each day and ask God, “What do I have to be thankful for today?” I have been fascinated with both the small and large things that I, Alayna, and and our kids have written on our traced hands and then hung on this tree.

In 1 Corinthians 15:57, Paul gives us this incredible encouragement: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ came to earth as our representative and died on a cross as our substitute to pay for every sin we would ever commit from the day we were born to the day we will die. He did that by hanging on a tree. This victory we receive through Christ is the ultimate thing to be thankful for.  

In this season, we have to remember Christ, what He has done, and all that we have to be thankful for because of Him. To help you do that, I want to give you three practical steps in making gratitude a priority in your everyday routine.

PAUSE DAILY

Take a moment to pause at the end of your day to reflect on the good and bad of the day. The moments where you chose to love well and the moments where you missed it. It is ok to be honest about where you did well and where you did not. This is crucial even if it’s only for a few minutes. If you have a spouse and children, pause with them. If you are currently living alone, remember, God is always with you.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Do something to physically practice an attitude of gratitude. You do not necessarily have to hang a painted tree on one of your doors, but do something to tangibly record gratitude for that day. It could be that you take a few minutes to write in your journal what you are thankful for and why. It could be that you FaceTime a friend at the end of the evening and you both share with one another whatever you are thankful for. Make it a daily habit.

MAKE IT A CONSTANT REMINDER

Gratitude leaks over time, so take time throughout the week to remind yourself of the things you already wrote.

Maybe you sporadically look through your journal; take some of those things and write them on notecards to hang somewhere. When you are feeling overwhelmed, reference back to all that God has done for you. It’s imperative to find a way to constantly remind your heart of all the things you can be thankful for today.

BONUS: Pray this prayer daily

Father, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to die in my place that I may experience His life. Let His death be the lens I see life and this current circumstance through. Help me to be a person of gratitude who takes time each day to pause, practice, and be constantly reminded of your goodness in my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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