Today’s special is a solo episode about the power of gratitude and how it can help us through hard times.
- Things I’m grateful for
- How to be grateful in any circumstances
- What the Bible teaches us about gratitude
- What are the benefits of gratitude
- How to practice gratitude and enjoy the simple things in life
Welcome to Hope for Anxiety and OCD episode 83. Today on the show, we are talking about the power of gratitude and some things that I am thankful for in this season. It’s been a unique season to be writing a list of things that I’m thankful for because we’re definitely going through some challenges right now, but I thought that working through this with you might kind of help you think through some things that you are thankful for as well as we go along the process.
Biblical Teachings on Gratitude and Thankfulness
You can think of people in situations, positive things that are going on in your life right now. Throughout the Bible we are told to be thankful and I just wanted to go over a few verses with you that express this. Of course, there’s many that we could cover together obviously, but I just picked out a few that I thought would be good. 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 says, “Give thanks In all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” All circumstances. It’s not always easy to be thankful. That is a tough one, but we’ll talk about that a little bit more in-depth later.
This next verse literally changed my life. I’ve probably talked about this on the podcast before. In fact, I know I have is James1:17. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” This first changed my life because I read it while I was going through my divorce in very dark time of my life, and I realized that if there was anything good in my life that God put it there, and it just caused me to be so thankful and really just pour out a lot of gratitude towards God in prayer for all the little things I had to be intentional in that time to be thankful and to find those things that were good in my life.
When you’re intentional and you look for things to be thankful for, you will find them. Where most of us are pretty familiar with another scripture passage in Philippians 4 that talks about don’t be anxious about anything. Oftentimes we don’t rewind a couple verses before where it says, “Rejoice in the Lord. Always. Again, I will say rejoice.” So when they repeat things in the Bible, it’s for emphasis purposes. When you’re reading something, it doesn’t have a tone of voice to it, but if you repeat it, it’s like, “Oh, hey, that’s important.” This sense of like finding joy in the Lord. That is can help us with our anxiety and a lot of times we don’t take that into consideration. I talked about this on a blog post, I believe a while back that’s on our website and maybe my assistant can link that to in our show notes for you guys. In Hebrews 13: 15, it says, “Through him, then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. That is the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
Sometimes praising God does feel like a sacrifice. Of course, in the biblical times in the Old Testament, people actually did like provide physical sacrifices For us, it’s a sacrifice of our time. It’s a sacrifice of our energy, and it’s a sacrifice sometimes of laying down things that we. For things that God wants, but we want to be a grateful people, which is hard in our society because advertising constantly tells you about what you don’t have, and they try to tell you what you should want and need.
We are inundated with advertisements, whether from the internet, from tv, from media that are constantly telling us, you know, “You need this car because it’s gonna make you feel like a million dollars,” or You need this product because it’s gonna help you get a member of the opposite sex,” whatever the case is.
Finding Gratitude in Challenging Circumstances
So we’re constantly put in this state of like, “Oh, I don’t have that.” Or like, “Oh, I want that.” And it is not so healthy for us, and we have to shift gears out of that. To really look around us and be thankful for the blessings that God has given us the simple things maybe each and every day, and I know that for me, I never really used to be a thankful person.
I struggled a lot with that since I was a child. Really just with this the glass half empty instead of half full mindset. My parents, I would be kind of like grumbling and complainy and they would say, “Carrie, tell us something you’re thankful for. ” And when you’re grumbling as a child, that is not exactly when you want to be thankful.
Gratitude and its Positive Impact on Mental and Physical Well-being
I do appreciate that they tried, but I don’t think it really helped me become a thankful person. What probably helped me the most were those dark times in my life and having use gratitude to pull myself out of them. I have told you what the scripture said about being thankful in gratitude, but also wanted to tell you what the psychology says about it, which shouldn’t surprise you, but here we go. “People who practice gratitude feel better physically and emotionally.” That’s awesome. They’re happier, they have better immune function. Whoa! That just blows my mind like our body works better in terms of our immunity.
If we are practicing gratitude, they sleep better, they have more ability to be in the moment and cope with life is really where mindfulness comes in. This sense of just being in the present moment. Gratitude is a present-moment activity. You can’t be stuck in past regret or be worried about the future and be grateful at the same time. Those two things can’t coexist inside your system.
Incorporating Gratitude into Daily Life
So how can we practice gratitude? I used to have this, I think it’s called the Five Minute Journal, something like that.
And you do maybe five minutes in the morning or five minutes in the evening. I can’t remember. But I ask you the same exact questions every day, and one of the questions it asks you is, I believe, like three things you’re thankful for, which is great, but I think it gets a little mundane after a while because you tend to kind of think about some of the same things, right? Like if somebody were to ask you, what are you grateful for? Like, “Okay, well I’m grateful for this person in my life, or I’m grateful for my child. I’m grateful for waking up today.” You know, it’s a new day and it’s hard to get specific. So I would encourage you if you struggle with gratitude, I’ll just tell you some things that I did that helped me.
I had a little one of those pocket calendars from like the dollar store. It’s not even the dollar store anymore. That’s sad. But anyway, I had one of those pocket calendars I would write on each day. Something specific about that day that maybe had happened that I was thankful for, or maybe that I noticed, like, “okay, I was thankful today that I got to smell some flowers outside and they smelled really good.” Or I’m thankful that you know, I got gift today from somebody, it was just a card, them telling me they cared about me, whatever the case is, and a lot of times I could go back and read those and you forget, you know, if you don’t write something down, a lot of times you forget that some of those things have even occurred.
It’s just a really great activity as a practice and it doesn’t take very long at all like two minutes to write something down on the calendar. I do think it’s important to be very specific. In your gratitude practice, even if it’s not about that day, just being in prayer and meditation of, “Okay, I am thankful for these very specific things.”
Personal Examples of Thankfulness and God’s Provision
So I thought I would go through some of that for you guys of what I’m thankful for in my life. Maybe to give you examples, I am specifically really thankful for my husband. You guys have heard Steve on the podcast before. If you’ve been around for a little while, if you’ve listened to any of. Marriage episodes together, he has an incredibly positive attitude, even though he’s going through some intense physical balance challenges right now. He got in what’s called vestibular therapy, which is for balance walking, those types of things. It’s a very specific type of physical therapy, and I really see how hard he works, how much effort he puts towards that, and his therapist tells him, “You know, a lot of people with your condition, they just sit down and they stop working and if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Those types of things. So I really see how he will tell other people, a lot of times if they feel bad or say, I’m sorry you’re dealing with that.
Oftentimes people will say, everyone goes through something and this is my something that I have, and you know, it’s.
He has this incredible gift and ability that he doesn’t worry about things. I wish he could give me that. I don’t know how he does that, but he just somehow he knows or has his just like internal confidence compass that it, it’s like everything’s gonna be okay. I’m like, can I get some of that? That is a gift.
Steve is also has a great heart just desiring to help other people. He writes me little encouraging notes around the house. A big thing that he and I are thankful for is that he went back for. His follow-up after a year of working with his eye specialist and he hasn’t had changes in vision, so we are so thankful for that, even though he’s had these other balance challenges.
I think at least I lived in fear for a little while that he was going to go blind, and so I’m just thankful that he’s not blind and he’s able to see his daughter grow up and at this point he’s not in a wheelchair. He’s still able to walk and still able to get around and have some levels of I. We are thankful for that every day that he has that ability. We have been told recently that it’s not really if you’re in a wheelchair, it’s more of when you’re in a wheelchair, but nobody can tell you if that is 10 years down the road or two years down the road, or six months down the road, which is hard for life cleaning.
Of course, I am also incredibly thankful for my daughter Faith. She just has this smile that lights up the entire room when she wakes up in a good mood. You love it. And she doesn’t always wake up in a good mood, cuz you know, a lot of times she’s hungry, but sometimes she wakes up from a nap or after she’s, you know, gone back to sleep and woken up and just smile at you like, she’s so happy to see you. That’s the best thing that happened to her day, which is really great. She is pretty easy baby, like pretty easy going and she just adapts. You know, I have to take her. We go to various appointments and things for Steve, and a lot of times I will take her and stroll her around while he’s in an appointment or something of that nature, and she just kind of goes with the flow. She sleeps really well in the car, so thankful for that because if she didn’t sleep well in the car, or wasn’t able to get her naps in that way, some days, that would be really tough on her.
I think one of the favorite things, blessings, in terms of her right now is just being able to hold her. She’s going to sleep and rock her, and just kind of like that sense of gentle trust that she has in us right now. I know that one day she’s gonna get older and not wanna cuddle up to me, so I’m trying to enjoy all the cuddles while I can.
We are very thankful that we have a house to live and that’s in good shape. We have been praying about a one-storey house and it looks like we may be able to move into one pretty soon, possibly in January. It’s kind of a still a possibility, not a for sure thing, but so thankful for that, that God seems to be answering that prayer. If for some reason that doesn’t work out, I know that he will provide something else for us that was really going to just take a lot of pressure and stress off of us with all of the balance conditions that Steve’s having. Our driveway is crazy and we have stairs and then some more stairs when you get into our house. It’s just people are kinda like, “Why don’t you build a ramp?” And I’m like, “It’s not that easy.” I appreciate those people that have wanted to do that for us. However, we really just need to get into one storey with some flat land and it looks like God is opening up that door and providing that for us, and also will be able to still be, you know, local. We’re not moving super far or anything like that, so that’s nice.
I am thankful for my car. Let me tell you this, I got the opportunity to drive this, let’s call it a small SUV. It was a 2002 and we drove it to Florida for a family funeral and had to bring some stuff back with us and so forth. So that was why we didn’t choose not to fly for that one, and I so enjoyed driving this car. It does all the things that like my car does not do because my car is a 2013. However, I will tell you that I’m so thankful that our car is paid off. I joke around that it’s the only car I know of that has a walker and a baby stroller in it, and we really have to kind of cram stuff in there. It’s not a big car and so enjoyed driving that, that small SUV because we just had room for things. So thankful for our car and that God has provided us a way to get to Steve, to his medical appointments and Faith when she has appointments and checkups and things that we can take her there, that we can get to the grocery store, other things. So I’m really thankful that our car is running well and that it’s paid off.
It’s not the newest thing in the world, but it gets us from point A to point B, and we’re thankful for that for sure.
I’m super thankful for God’s financial provision in this season. We’ve had a lot of medical bills, obviously for everything that’s going on with Steve, and I wanna tell you a quick story because this is just a story of faith. I want to write down for my daughter to let her know that God hears and God understands and he knows like exactly what we need. I had an unexpected expense come up recently that I really, you know, did not know I was gonna be hit. And it was $300. I was like, Okay. You know, trying to think through where is this $300 gonna come from, so forth. So I just, I prayed to God and I said, “You knew that this $300 bill was gonna come. I didn’t know it was gonna come. And so, because you knew it was gonna come, I just believed that they’re gonna get the $300 and I don’t know. Like how we’re gonna get it. I don’t know where it’s gonna come from.: I just pray and I believe that you’re gonna provide it for us because this is something that we really need.
And no lie, literally the next day we get a card that has a hundred dollars in it. We get another card that has $200 in it. Completely was not expecting that, and it was just like God showing me like, :Yes, I’m taking care of you. I know exactly what you need. I’ve got you.” God will do that for you.
That’s not just like a God does that for care thing. God will originally supply all your needs according to his glorious riches and Christ Jesus. Philippians, I believe that’s 4:19 tells us, and that’s just something that I have repeated to myself over and over. You know, as we get these different medical bills and therapies and things like that, I’m like, You know, God will supply all my needs. God will supply all my needs. It just almost has become like this prayer that I have repeated and has helped me really calm during those seasons where I get anxious about bills. I am super thankful for our church in this season.
Something happened to us and I actually asked Steve if he wanted to talk about this on our marriage episode, and I don’t think that he wanted to talk about it, but I feel like it’s important and it’s important to talk about for the Thanksgiving episode, God uprooted us from a church, a place that I had been in for several years. Steve had been in since we were married, and I believe that God uprooted us because he wanted to plant us somewhere else. But I will say that there was a time period in between where we were a bit lost, going through some hard things that were going on in the family. And didn’t really have support like it was just rough, trying to kind of reach out to people even emotionally and say, “Will you pray with us? We have this and this and this going on in our families.” And it was just, it was tough. We weren’t getting the support and even just the prayer support that we needed in that season. And I’m telling you that God did what only he can do. He planted us in a completely new church that someone had invited us to. We knew the moment we walked in the door that this is exactly where we’re supposed to be. This is what we have wanted for months, um, for a long time. And it was around the time where Steve got his diagnosis shortly after we started going there. And there’s just been this outpouring of love of people that barely know us, really. I mean, that brought us over meals that have taken, driven him to appointments that have just, you know, brought us things that we needed. Absolutely incredible. Totally blown us away. We feel very undeserving but just incredibly grateful that God has put us in this place to be really wrapped around and loved by these people in a big way.
We have a great small group through that church as well, and it’s just been good positive relationships for us in this season. And with that, I will say that I am thankful, even though it’s been hard this year. I am thankful for my friendships.
I’m thankful for the people that God kept in my life and I’m thankful for the people that have walked away, which may sound super weird because it’s definitely not comfortable. It’s actually pretty painful when people walk away from your life or when you know you, you have a friend and they’re just kind of, they’re disconnected and not really there for you.
That can be super challenging. However, I think what I’ve learned over the year is that God brings different people into our lives for different seasons, and some people are meant to go that one or two miles with us, and some people are meant to go that those 10 miles or 10 years with us. And not everybody is meant to go that far with you, but it’s definitely a blessing when you have one of those longer-term relationships.
I’m thankful that the people in my life right now are people who are really invested in mine and Steve’s wellbeing, and that I feel incredibly thankful and blessed about. I am thankful for going through some of these challenging things recently because it has made me be a stronger person and draw me closer to God.
When Steve first got diagnosed, I remember thinking like, I don’t have the prayer life for this. I don’t have the dependence on God that I need in my life to get through this. So that has been something that I have been actively cultivating. Definitely still in process. But I know that even though it’s hard, each day brings me closer and closer to God and to knowing who he is and understanding his purposes for our life.
And this year, how do I explain this one? Because I am not thankful that someone died, but I had a close family member pass away this year. It’s not something that I’m ready to talk about in-depth, but I believe that I will at some point in the podcast because I think it’s important to share that story with you and my process of that grief. The piece that I’m thankful for though is not that I lost a family member. I am thankful that that family member is in heaven. I’m very thankful that they’re no longer suffering because they were suffering with cancer really badly, and I’m thankful that God in his sovereignty at the right time, took them home and didn’t allow them to suffer than they already did because it was just, it was a lot. And I’m thankful that even though that family member isn’t here with me anymore, that I really feel still very connected with them. And I feel like I know kind of what they would say to me in different scenarios, in different situations in my life.
So I’m thankful that even though I’ve lost that family member, I still feel close to them. It’s very bizarre because I haven’t ever had this experience before with anyone else that I’ve lost. I think it’s because I was not as close to other family members that I have lost before, but since I was very close to this individual, it’s allowed me to still feel very connected or having some kind of sense of presence to them. And that’s the only way that I can explain it. I don’t really know what it means other than maybe we are somehow connected in on a spiritual level. I don’t know.
So that’s the roundup on what I am thankful and grateful for. I hope that it helped you make your own list or helped you think about how you can incorporate gratitude into your own practice, spiritually and emotionally which will also help you physically as we learned earlier.
It’s so incredible how God has created our systems to interconnect emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It’s just so intertwined and it makes so much sense when we read the Bible and then we look at these psychological studies. They’re not in contradiction to each other, right?
The Bible says, Give thanks and then the studies say, “Hey, giving thanks causes all of these positive health benefits.” It’s just so cool when we look at things like that. I think just confirmation of things that we know to be true. We’ve got one more episode this year on how to set a boundary, and it’s a good one.
I asked our guests to go through some very specific scenarios with us on what she would say and how she would handle the situations that I brought up. I think it’s great, and it may help some of you as you’re going into the Christmas season or spending more time with family. We’re only putting out one episode in December to take a little bit of a break for Christmas and end of the year. We will definitely be back in January with some question-and-answer episodes on anxiety and then on OCD. So please send us your burning questions that you have either for the Q and A anxiety episode or the Q and A OCD episode. We would love to feature your question on the air. You may send those via our website at hopeforanxietyandocd.com.
As always, thank you so much for listening.
Hope for anxiety and OCD is a production of By the Well Counseling. Our show is hosted by me, Carrie Bock, a licensed professional counselor in Tennessee. Opinions given by our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the use of myself or By the Well Counseling. Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum. Until next time, may you be comforted by God’s great love for you.