The Power of Gratitude

I wrote this post in the summer of 2012 as I was preparing to serve a mission in Rochester, New York. It captures a profound lesson I continue to learn about what gratitude really is and the role it plays in our lives.

One thing I have really gained a testimony of in the past few months is gratitude.

I have to admit that many times when I have heard people talk about being grateful, I thought it was another way to say

“Quit whining.”

I had never really tested the power of gratitude in my life.

But on one of my low, low days, when I felt myself slipping back into discouragement and despair (trying desperately not to cry in front of my computer at work) I listened to a podcast of an interview with Meg Johnson on the Mormon Channel. Meg survived an accidental jump off a cliff and is now a C-7 quadriplegic, which means she is paralyzed from the chest down and her hands don’t work, so she will spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Suddenly my challenges didn’t seem quite so bad.

As I listened to Meg speak I was so impressed by her beautiful attitude and her faith borne of her close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The two things she said that helped heal her soul after her body was broken?

Service and
gratitude.

So despite my misgivings about gratitude as kind of a band-aid solution (where was my faith?) I decided to give it a try. Whenever I hit my lowest points, I would stop, take a deep breath, and say a prayer in my heart sincerely thanking Heavenly Father for the ways he has so abundantly blessed me.

  • I get to go to the temple.
  • I have a family that can be together forever.
  • I am going on a mission to a place I have always wanted to see.
  • I have friends who love me.
  • I have seen miracles as God has opened the way for me to do what I need to do.

And the list goes on.

I am here to tell you that whenever I did that, whenever I opened my heart in sincere gratitude to God, peace so deep and so penetrating flooded into my soul that I wondered how I ever doubted. This isn’t to say that I never had low points after that, but whenever I have made the effort to be sincerely grateful, I have felt that peace come, and little by little, it has healed my heart.

Gratitude is not just a code word for “stop whining.” Gratitude is not just acknowledging that “someone else has it worse.” I have come to believe that gratitude is a way that we can act, that we can reach out to God and access the power of the Atonement in our lives.

We live in gratitude when we know that because of His Atonement, His promises are sure. And because He keeps His promises, we can be happy now, knowing that sooner or later those promises will be fulfilled.

Gratitude is an act of faith in Jesus Christ.

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