Preparing For Worship – Abbey Adcox, ministry assistant.
A small group of Wilshire staff recently read Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. We call ourselves WOWS (Women of Wilshire Staff) in a nod to our WOW! Women’s Ministry. We are all in “midlife,” and each of us came into the group eager to live more wholeheartedly.
Gifts is organized into ten guideposts that shape and develop the daily practices that lead us into greater wholeheartedness. Guidepost 4 specifically helps one move from fear into gratitude and joy.
It’s easy to reduce gratitude to an attitude, an obvious overflow of the presence of joy, security and favorable circumstances. Brown’s research, however, shows just the opposite. Happiness is the human emotion tied to circumstance, and joy is a spiritual discipline connected to the consistent observable practice of gratitude. We assume that gratitude is focused on the past — what we already celebrate and are thankful for — when it is in truth focused on the future. Gratitude improves what comes next.
As I strive to create observable gratitude practices, I notice that I’m relying on external devices. We can’t gimmick our way into gratitude. It’s a mindset, not a pretty notebook with the perfect pen. True gratitude is internal work, which is the harder work.
I’ve learned that it’s in the moments of fear, insecurity and frustration that it’s most important to focus and move into gratitude. I’m learning to be still, acknowledge my uncomfortable feelings, accept them non-judgmentally and then honestly express my gratitude. Earlier this week I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t fully help with a project because of physical limitations. I felt myself internally tensing and tightening, even while surrounded by friends energetically and happily doing what I could not. My shift from frustration to gratitude wasn’t immediate, but it did happen. I honored my disappointment and then expressed my gratitude for how my body did allow me to work and serve, and celebrated those who worked alongside me. This practice truly transformed my feelings around the project. The frustration dissipated, and all that remains is the joy of serving with others.
As we enter Thanksgiving week, how can we each practice gratitude more mindfully? May we notice the simple extraordinary things and be grateful for the joy they bring. May we give ourselves grace and be grateful for our growth. May we extend hospitality to family and friends and be grateful for their presence in our lives.