Entries with tag prayer .

Being a Compassionate Presence

It only takes a cursory glance at the news or at our social media feeds to realize there’s a lot going on in our world these days. And it’s affecting our friends, our family, and us, too. It’s hard enough to hold on to God for our own spiritual health, let alone to know how to respond to others.

 

Is there something we can do to help with all of this negativity? Is prayer enough? This balancing act can be difficult when so many voices are shouting all around us. It can be tempting to jump into the internet debates and get riled up in the world’s passions.

 

It can be tempting to forget that we as Christians are called not to reflect the ways of this world, but to reflect Christ. Instead of getting involved in the negative banter, how can we instead be instruments of peace, reconciliation, and compassion?

 

1. Listen first

 

How often do we actually listen when others talk to us? I have a horrible memory when it comes to learning names. I have to visualize their name (visual learner problems) before I can commit their name to memory. But the other problem is that I’m usually so focused on what I’ll say next that I don’t listen fully when they tell me their name. I need to listen first.

 

When it comes to divisive issues, it’s even harder to listen. We want to close our ears or speak louder to drown out their opinion. Or we listen only enough to find something to attack, criticize, or shoot down.

 

We listen enough to win, to be right.

 

If we hope to reflect Christ in this world, we must first listen. It will take patience, it will take work, but it is necessary if we want to actually respect the person before us (whether behind a screen or not).

 

2. Questions over answers

 

A characteristic of Orthodox spirituality that I’ve grown to appreciate is the preference of giving questions instead of answers. Usually, behind someone’s opinion is a host of assumptions that are informing their current stance and could potentially prevent them from receiving the answer the Church might give. Likewise, in our society of debate and attacks, we see a lot of calls to action and demands, we see name-calling and assumptions being made.

 

So after we have listened to the complaints and concerns of those around us, we need to ask more questions to get a clearer picture of how the person is forming their opinion. Why do they feel scared? What is behind their fear? What about their opponent causes them so much anger and passion? What personal experiences have led them to their current stance or worldview? Have they made friends with a person that holds the opposing view?

 

Sometimes we just need to be asked questions to bring us back to earth. We just need a new perspective. Sometimes our assumptions and passions puff us up so much we need a bit of a deflation to see the reality of our own prejudices.

 

3. Unity over division

 

The devil is the one who divides; the Holy Spirit is the One who unites. The Holy Spirit strengthens us and inspires us to seek union over division, to help heal the wounds of division rather than reopening them. We are called to be sons of God by bringing peace into a world of enemies.

 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9). The Christian is one who brings people together, who helps divided “sides” unite without expecting everyone to be the same, who speaks love into a world of black and white. “Love your enemies, and do good...and you will be sons of the Most High” (Luke 6:35).

 

The world’s factions don’t need us to join their sides, though of course, we are certainly allowed our opinions; they need us to bring the presence of the Lord into their midst and to speak truth that defies their limitations. We should remember that we will never have perfect answers to suffering and, on our own, cannot heal other people completely because Christ is the answer. He bears the burdens of our brokenness alone, but by being connected to Him and desiring to share His love with our broken world, He strengthens us to bear one another’s burdens through the Church.

 

We can and should be agents of unity and understanding because God has already united us to Him. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

 

*****

 

Jesus has already given us so much; it’s time we give back to Him by giving of our compassion, our listening ears, a discerning spirit, and a spirit of unity over division.

 

Whether we are tempted to argue about politics or we struggle loving our family members we disagree with, we have work to do if we want to be a compassionate presence in a world in so much need of compassion. While it’s easier to join a side of an international, national, or even parish debate, it’s much harder to take the Christian action by listening and then speaking truth in love, instead.

 

When was the last time you posted something online in anger? Do you follow people on social media you disagree with? Do you pray for others before arguing with them? How can you bring peace into your corner of the world today?

 

 

Want more from Y2AM? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a supporter. Your contribution can help us continue the work we’re doing.

 

Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages, genealogy, and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos

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Holding on to God in Hard Times

“Why?”

 

Why didn’t God stop all of these hurricanes? Why did my friends lose their jobs? Why can’t I stop this bad habit? Why am I struggling financially?

 

Each of us has our own set of “whys” that we ask ourselves and that maybe we ask God in prayer each day. We want there to be a rhyme and reason to life. We want there to be order and justice. We want our prayers heard and answered.

 

There’s some dissonance when we know we’re prayerful people (or at least people who consistently try to pray) but things don’t go as planned. We lose our jobs, bills pile up, family members pass away, and natural disasters seem only to be more frequent. We need God more than ever, but these problems have a habit of pushing us away from our faith.

 

Here are three things to keep in mind in the midst of hard times.

 

1. God IS with us

 

When things are going well, it isn’t so hard to remember God. It’s when nothing seems to be working out that we wonder where God is in our lives. In the Old Testament, the Prophet Elijah (St. Elias) went in search for God to speak to Him. He found that God wasn’t found in these big shows of the earth’s power (the wind, the earthquake, or fire)...but He was found in a quiet whisper (1 Kings 19:9-13). Later, when God chose to become man, He wasn’t born a king, he was born to a young girl in a cave. Jesus was born and called Immanuel (literally “God with us”) in a way the people weren’t expecting (Matthew 1:23). So maybe God is with us when we least expect it, too.

 

For many of us, it can be really hard to sense God’s presence with us when we’re going through tough times. Sadness and grief can lead us to despair and despondency. Worry can lead to anxiety and fear. And fear just leads us to isolate and get lost in the what-ifs in our thoughts.

 

So how do we see that God is with us? There’s a beautiful Orthodox prayer service called the “Glory to God for all Things Akathist” that helps us to meditate on our many blessings and gratitudes when we might be inclined to see none. God is with us in the love of friends and family. Even after a disaster, God is made known to us in the acts of kindness shown by strangers and in the service given by emergency personnel. God is with us, and we recognize His presence when we learn to see the many signs of His mercy.

 

2. We can’t always explain suffering

 

Since so many of us ask “Why?” when we face suffering, there is no shortage of people giving explanations. Many Protestant pastors have suggested that natural disasters serve as signs of the Second Coming of Christ or serve as punishment for societal sin. Other people, like Kirk Cameron (actor from the 1985-1992 sitcom Growing Pains and the popular Left Behind series about the supposed “Rapture”) suggest that storms like Hurricane Irma are meant for individuals to personally repent.

 

One blogger, commenting on Kirk Cameron’s remarks, wrote:

People who are wounded and grieving and heartbroken need to be cared for and comforted and embraced—they don’t need any armchair theology about why this is a good thing, or how it’s a Divine personal message, or what God might be personally saying to them. It’s one thing for a victim to seek and speculate on such things for themselves, but something else for us to do it for them…

 

Maybe we should admit the mystery, discomfort, and the tension that spirituality yields in painful, terrifying times.

 

Maybe when people are being terrorized by nature or by the inhumanity around them, instead of shouting sermons at them—we should shut up and simply try to be a loving, compassionate presence.

 

This response meant so much to me, personally, because I still feel an instinctive cringe awaiting some religious leader giving their interpretation of the impending doom that natural disasters might represent. It’s part of my own path of healing having been raised in a Rapture-centric community before becoming Orthodox.

 

Sometimes we can look too hard for meaning in situations that simply are. We live in a broken world with pain and suffering and being a Christian doesn’t make us imune to the ways of the world. I can’t give meaning to another’s suffering. I can’t even guarantee I’ll make sense of my own; the only thing I can do with it is offer it up to God in prayer.

 

3. Prayer isn’t a transaction

 

When we encounter difficult times, prayer is either the last thing we think about or it’s the thing we grasp onto. As I watched Hurricane Irma approach Florida, I had to consciously reject the urge to freeze with anxiety about family and friends, and instead turn to prayer. In the moment, prayer was the only thing I could do. But what if my prayers aren’t answered? What if what I ask for (protection for people I love) isn’t what I get?

 

I can approach prayer as a transactional process with God or I can approach it as a transformational encounter with Him as part of our relationship. I’m abusing my relationship with God if I expect something from Him in return for my time and energy in prayer. If I think I’ll get what I want if only I fast properly or say the right words, or ask the right saint to intercede for me, I’m not committing myself and others to God.

 

Instead, I can chose to give my worries and concerns up to God. I can tell Him what is making me scared, and I can ask Him that His will “be done on earth as it is in heaven” as we pray in the Our Father. I pray so that I can make myself aware of being in the presence of God and so that God can soften the hardness of my heart. And then, naturally, God gives me the strength I need to endure the hard times.

 

*****

 

Each year during summer camp, one of my favorite moments was when the campers learned the hymn, “Lord of the powers.” As we repeated the words, the meaning sank deeper and we recognized that the words were really true: “Lord of the powers, be with us for in times of distress we have no other help but You, Lord of the powers, have mercy on us!” There isn’t always an escape from the hard times, but there is always a God present with us in the midst of it all.

 

Do you find yourself trying to find meaning in everyday struggles? How can you offer this to God for today?

 

 

Want more from Y2AM? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a supporter. Your contribution can help us continue the work we’re doing.

 

Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages, genealogy, and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos

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Balancing Our Inner Mary and Martha

The older I get, the more I struggle with the inner dialogue of “I have to do something about ____” and “but I’m just one person…what can I do, really?” As a Millennial (which Microsoft Word says is synonymous with utopian, idealistic, and visionary), I’m annoyingly optimistic. But there’s only so much one person can handle on their own, there’s only so much of the world’s pain, anxieties, and fears that one person (aside from Christ) can try to solve.

 

I try to balance the desire to “do something” about the world’s problems – to offer a voice, to be the hands and feet of Christ, to serve – while also allowing myself to sit at the feet of Christ and listen. Ora et labora, pray and work, has been something Christians have struggled to balance for centuries.

 

But who likes listening when the world is shouting at you to speak, to act, to do something, anything, to fix the world’s problems that just seem to be getting worse?

 

So when I read the Gospel passage from the Feast of the Dormition (the same as for the apodosis or leavetaking of the feast) from Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28, I could certainly identify with both Mary and Martha. Mary sat listening to Christ while Martha took care of offering hospitality to her guests. Martha was upset at Mary’s inaction, and Jesus tells Martha that she is anxious and worried about many things but one thing (being with Jesus) was needful.

 

What we need is to find some balance. Here are three things to keep in mind.

 

1. Acknowledge anxieties and worries

 

Most of my own confusion with answering the “what can I do?” question comes from the seemingly oppressive list of problems that need solving. In our heads, all mixed up and confused, these problems really seem unsolvable. What we need is to pause and acknowledge the various things in our lives that we’re anxious and worried about.

 

Are we struggling with grief and sadness over the loss of a loved one? Maybe we’re battling all the lies we tell ourselves.

 

Then there’s the general political tone in our country today. Regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum, life after the election is certainly different. There’s a lot of uncertainty for many people who struggle to find hope and give thanks in such a divisive political climate. We don’t want to get stuck in our worries, but it’s easier to deal with them if we have cleaned up the clutter of our thoughts.

 

After we are aware of what problems we’re personally struggling with, then we can turn them over to Christ.

 

2. The One Thing that’s needful

 

In the Gospel reading about Mary and Martha, Mary was perfectly content with sitting at the feet of Christ and listening to Him. I’m guessing Martha would have wanted to sit and listen to Jesus too, she just had SO much to do! Sound familiar? We’d love to be at church, we’d love to read the Bible, we’d love to spend some alone time with God…but…look at this LIST!

 

We need to commit ourselves to Christ and see that He is the one thing that’s needful.

 

But what if we just feel burnt out? What if that urge to sit at the feet of Christ, that urge to pray and grow in our faith is just not as strong as it once was?

 

I am so very good at distracting myself from prayer. I can fill my free time with so many things until it comes down to growing in my faith – and then suddenly there’s just not enough time. Time seems to stop as I stare blankly at my to do list or at the daily news in shock, but what I really need is to break out of this inaction and turn to Christ.

 

You see, behind all of the world’s problems and the problems I might face, I am only one person. But One Person is also the solution to all of the world’s brokenness – Jesus Christ – and He can and will be present with us if we have the faith to let Him work. From a position of trust in Him, He will direct us to the right course of action.

 

3. The role of action

 

Once we’re centered and letting Christ direct us, we’ll have the better vantage point to see what we can do. But there are different types of action.

 

If I’m inclined towards selfishness and laziness, doing something physical might be exactly what I need to do. After all, service changed my life and might change yours too. When we serve someone in need, we serve Christ Himself. And, that’s what Martha was doing wasn’t it?

 

They key to the issue might be what the Church connects to the story of Mary and Martha from the next chapter of Luke. Jesus calls blessed those who “hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28). Some of the Gospel requires action on our part, and this is our keeping of the word of God. But we have to hear it first.

 

If I’m inclined to worry and trying to do everything and anticipate all the possible problems that might come next, it will surely take work just to…stop. Action for me would be to slow down and listen to Christ. We have an opportunity for action – that work of the people of God – to serve together in prayer. Like Elder Sophrony of Essex reminds us, "The early church lived without a New Testament, but not without the Divine Liturgy."

 

Whether our action is by serving those in need, or speaking out when we need to, or stopping ourselves for a moment to listen to what Christ is trying to tell us, it takes work on our part.

 

*****

 

We cannot ignore evil any more than we can ignore the anxieties in our own lives. So we have to slow down for a moment and acknowledge the fears and worries we have. We need to sit at the feet of Christ in prayer and study and listen to what He might have us do. And then we take action in the best way we can – following the lead of Martha who showed hospitality to Christ as best she could.

 

Are you a Mary or a Martha? If you’re feeling more anxious these days, how have you strengthened your personal prayer life? How is God calling you to action in your corner of the world?

 

 

Want more from Y2AM? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a supporter. Your contribution can help us continue the work we’re doing.

 

Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages, genealogy, and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos

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How Lent Can Guide the Rest of the Year

Whether or not we were ready for it, Great Lent is here! The Church gave us three weeks to prepare, and now we’re well on our way towards Pascha. Like many of the great figures in Scripture, we are given forty days to guide us closer to God. The forty days from Clean Monday through Lazarus Saturday are meant to be a period of change and transformation. What we learn about ourselves, the growth that we make during this period, and the passions that we gain victory over during Lent shouldn’t stop at Pascha. In other words, we shouldn’t be the same people after Pascha as we were before Lent began.

 

But how can we hold on to the growth we make during Lent? How do hold on to that spiritual high that comes at Pascha? Great Lent is a training period for the whole year as it guides us to support each other, to have an increased tolerance for spiritual practices, and to rely on God’s strength.

 

1. Supporting each other

 

Great Lent teaches us to rely on each other and to support one another in our common effort. This was one of the things that most appealed to me when I was first becoming Orthodox as a teen; our spiritual effort is a team effort. The entire Orthodox Church fasts together. We pray the same services throughout Lent and we have the same Holy Week services all over the world. We have one fasting rule, though each person’s personal fasting rule can be adjusted with the help of their Spiritual Father. We share in the one Lord through our one faith and share in one chalice at Holy Communion.

 

We have a shared fasting discipline; each person doesn’t give up something different during Lent. If I were giving up coffee, whereas you were giving up social media, and our mutual friend was giving up chocolate, it’d be hard for us to support each other in our unshared disciplines. So when I get together with my Orthodox friends during Lent, there’s already a mutual understanding of what sort of places we might go to or what food we’ll have at each other’s homes. We don’t have to explain ourselves or worry if we’ll have anything to eat. When we fast together, we can better support each other.

 

This principle of supporting our brothers and sisters in a common effort ought to inform the rest of our year. We all have days where we can barely stand spiritually, and though we know we need to rely on God’s strength, it helps to know we have church friends to help us, too. If I’m sensitive to my friend’s fasting needs during Lent, am I sensitive to what might be going on in their lives? Am I open to my friend’s helping me when they see that I need help? My friends are the hands and feet of Christ; they are reminders that God is just as present with me as they are.

 

2. Increased tolerance in spiritual things

 

The more we accustom ourselves to spiritual practices, the more they become a part of our lives. What we did last year during Lent might not be sufficient for the spiritual growth that has taken place in our lives over the last year. And once I’m used to fasting during Lent, it will feel more natural to keep the fast on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year.

 

This is the principle of tolerance, usually spoken about in the context of addiction. The more a person does something, it takes more of the habit or substance to get the same effect that it once took. In a spiritual context, we can see how Lent can guide us to have an increased tolerance for fasting, prayer, worship, and service. If before Lent, I only prayed once a day but prayed twice a day during Lent, I will be inclined to desire more prayer after Pascha has come and gone.

 

But it doesn’t always happen that way, does it? During Lent, it can feel natural to go to church, to pray more, to fast. And then Pascha comes and so does the temptation to let prayer slip a bit until we’re right back where we were before Lent. What we need is to be more aware of ourselves.

 

Lent helps us to be more watchful of our thoughts so that we can follow the Lord’s command to stay alert (Mark 13:37). St. John Cassian writes, “We are told to fast not only to mortify our body, but also to keep our intellect watchful, so that it will not be obscured because of the amount of food we have eaten and thus be unable to guard its thoughts” (“On the Eight Vices,” The Philokalia, Vol. 1, p. 75). The more I’m attentive to my thoughts, the more I spend time reading Scripture and less time on social media during Lent, the more this will begin to feel normal. But in order for this to happen, I have to be watchful during Lent so that I can see when I start to slip back to the way things once were.

 

When we’re watchful, the spiritual progress we make during Great Lent can guide us to a new normal for life after Pascha.

 

3. Relying on God’s strength

 

One of the paradoxes of Great Lent is that by learning self-control, we learn to rely not on our own strength but on God’s. The more I learn to say no to meat, the more I can say no to my passions. The more I can say yes to reading Scripture, the more I can say yes to letting Jesus guide my life. What I always have to remind myself of though is that Lent isn’t about being perfect. We do not fast so that we can prove to ourselves, to God, or to anyone else that we’re good at self-mastery.

 

We fast so that we can remember that God is the Lord and Master of our lives; we fast to remember that we are not God.

 

St. John Cassian, when writing on the passion of lust, speaks about the ascetic work one takes and the importance of relying on God instead of on one’s own power. He writes,

 

We should not trust in our own strength and ascetic practice, but in the help of our Master, God. No one ceases to be attacked by this demon until he truly believes that he will be healed and reach the heights of purity not through his own effort and labour, but through the aid and protection of God. For such a victory is beyond man’s natural powers. (“On the Eight Vices,” The Philokalia, Vol. 1, p. 75)

 

No spiritual task we undertake during Lent – fasting, prayer, reading Scripture, serving the poor – is done of our own strength nor should it be for our own glory.

 

During the year, we can easily fall back into the habit of relying on our tried and true friend “me, myself, and I”. We can forget that our labor doesn’t put food on our table; God puts food on our table. Anxiety and stress cannot solve a problem; God is the solution to every problem. During Lent, I find it easier to remember God because I’m keeping Him in mind each time I choose my meal and each time I go to church throughout the week. So once I hit the spiritual highs of Holy Week and Pascha, I have to hold on to the good practices I learned during Lent. At the start of each day, I can choose to keep God at the forefront of my mind, and throughout the day, I can remember that I can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15:5).

 

Then, Lent stops being just a period of days every Spring and becomes a way of life. Lent is a guide to rely on God instead of relying on ourselves.

 

*****

 

Lent is not meant to be a practice disconnected from the rest of our spiritual lives during the year. It is meant to inform our daily practice by teaching us to be ever more attentive to our thoughts and actions. As we fast together and support one another during Lent, we learn to continue to support each other spiritually throughout the year. As we increase our spiritual efforts during Lent, we should raise the bar for ourselves afterwards too. And as we rely on God during Lent to strengthen us in our fast, we should remember to always rely on God.

 

How can you let Lent guide you even after Pascha has come? How have you made spiritual progress since last Lent?

 

Want more from Y2AM? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a monthly Patreon supporter. As little as $1 a month can help us continue the work we’re doing.

 

Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos

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Remember The Good

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

A.A. Milne,  Winnie-the-Pooh

 

The beginning of a new year always makes me reflect.

 

And I’m not alone.

 

It’s why new year resolutions are so popular: you start to think about all the things you accomplished (or didn’t) in the past year and want to project yourself on a better (or just different) path for the year ahead.  

 

And I love the opportunity to try and set myself up for success and new beginnings.  The new year is a fresh start and a time to be concrete about how you want to improve.  (It’s particularly helpful if you’ve forced everyone to write their resolutions on a poster board in glitter paint.)

 

But it’s more than just a time to look forward; the new year gives us a special opportunity to look back on everything that has happened in our lives.  It’s a great time to see how we want to change, sure, but it’s a perfect time to acknowledge all the blessings we’ve experienced in the past year.  

 

It’s the perfect time to express gratitude to all the people who helped get us through.  

 

That gratitude, rather than regret, helps us lean into the things that are going well in our lives.  Rather than focusing on the mistakes I made last year (there are more than a few) I’m trying to focus on all the things that I’m doing right, and working on offering thanks to those who have helped get me there.  

 

Instead of trying to fight all my terrible habits, I’m going to try and build upon my good ones.  

 

Instead of being disappointed in the difficulties of last year, I’m going to be thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had, and all the incredible people I’ve encountered.  

 

Because as St Porphyrios said, it’s easier to build our love for Christ rather than to spend our energy fighting against sin. “Do not fight to expel the darkness from the chamber of your soul.  Open a tiny aperture for light to enter, and the darkness will disappear.”

 

We can’t spend our lives simply running from sin; that’s incomplete. The more important (not to mention easy and fulfilling) thing is to spend our lives running towards Christ.

 

And an important part of building up my love for Christ is expressing gratitude.

 

I like to think the people I love know how much I love them.  But I also know that, despite my best efforts, I occasionally take them for granted.  It’s easy to fall into a rhythm when someone is there for you all the time.  We come to see their presence in our lives as a guarantee rather than a blessing, and forget to be appreciative of who they are and what they do.

 

And that starts with acknowledging that there are things you couldn’t do without them.  

 

Not only does acknowledging and offering thanks remind those in your life how much you need them, but it also reminds you that there are people who love you enough to offer you their time and energy.  It reminds you that even when you have rough moments in the upcoming year (as I’m sure we all will) there are also incredible things in your life.  Remembering that, and expressing that freely, strengthens your relationships with the people you love.  It helps them know they are wanted and needed.

 

Actually looking someone in the eye and genuinely thanking them for all they have done for you reinforces your relationship and helps you both appreciate each other.  

 

As important as it is to express gratitude to the people in our lives, and show our appreciation for all that is done for us, it is just as important to be grateful in our spiritual lives.  

 

More often than I care to admit, I find myself forgetting to be thankful in my prayer life.  I pray for what I want, and for those who I want God to help, but I forget to also be thankful for all that the Lord has already given us.  

 

While I remember the blessings of my life, and acknowledge them as blessings, I don’t always remember where those blessings are coming from.  And how important it is to express thanks for them in my prayers.  

 

The good things in my life aren’t by accident.  The people who help me every day (for whom I’m incredibly grateful) are a blessing. The opportunities I’m offered (for which I’m incredibly grateful) are a blessing.  And it’s not enough to simply be appreciative, I have to actively express that appreciation.  

 

Expressing our gratitude floods our memories with these blessings and we start to remember more of the good and less of the bad.  Our past year begins to look brighter than it once did, and our outlook on the future improves.

 

And instead of just focusing on the glitter pen resolutions, I can also focus on what how much God has already given me, and how completely He loves me and us all.  

 

 

 

Charissa is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM.  Charissa grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah where she studied political science at the University of Utah.  She enjoys sunshine, the mountains and snowcones.  Charissa currently lives in New York City.   

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