Have you ever noticed that some people are really good at giving gifts while others are really good at receiving them? I have people in my life who are more in the “think of others and give them the best gift ever category”–me, not so much. As a natural “receiver”, Christmas can easily become more about what I want, and less about what I have been given. Consequently, excessive focus on what I don’t have usually leads me to a grumpy, ungrateful attitude.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered a way to confront this attitude before I become a Christmas grump. I have learned to apply good advice from Psalm 116:17. In this verse, the psalmist reminds us to offer sacrificial thanksgiving as we call on God. So, even when I don’t feel like it, I make a daily habit of giving God thank-offerings. What’s a thank-offering? It’s basically a shout-out to God or a daily recognition of the many little gifts I’ve been given. Sometimes I thank God for health, other times I meditate on the pure joy of laughing with friends, or even a great meal.
When I practice God shout-outs, especially during the Christmas season, my attitude quickly shifts from inward grumpiness to outward joy. It’s as though there’s an infusion of joy waiting to come to grateful people. Perhaps this is what the psalmist knew all along. If you find yourself acting like a Christmas grump, you might consider giving God some daily shout-outs. Taking the time to stop and give God a shout-out is a learned process. And it’s especially difficult when we don’t feel like doing it. However, the joy and peace that come from living as a grateful person far outweigh the inconveniences of learning gratefulness. So, this Christmas season, why not give it a try? Possibly start out by thinking of three gifts from God, write them down then give God a shout-out every time you think of them in your day! Then notice how how this affects your personal level of joy!
— Erik Dees, Campus Ministries Pastor