During the month of November, the COMPASS blog will share reflections on gratitude. We are calling this series theme “An Attitude of Gratitude.” The blog posts will offer reflections on questions about gratitude, including:
- Do you find it easy or hard to be grateful?
- Is having an attitude of gratitude important in your faith journey and practice?
To begin our series of reflection, I thought it would be only fair if I shared my own.
I like to claim that I always live abundantly and gratefully. I strive to give thanks often and to show appreciation and gratitude. I find that life is always richer when I take the time to say thank you to someone, to write a thank you note, or to acknowledge the good work someone has done. That said, it’s not always easy.
What happens in life can sometimes distract from living abundantly. Job and income situations can change. They certainly have a lot over the past couple of years for my wife Allison and me.
We have lived into this. I would be lying though if I said there weren’t times when I was a bit nervous about if we could make ends meet, pay student loans, and still give financially to our faith communities and to those causes and organizations we love to support. These hard times can lead to a feeling that we don’t have enough: that our resources and means are scarce.
When this is the case, I have found it important to take a step back. Yes, looking over our budget and finances helps ease my mind, but more importantly, having a conversation with my wife about our finances usually helps. She reminds me, and I her, that we’re okay. In creating a practice that works for us, we review our finances and budget together over a homemade pancake breakfast on a Saturday morning at least once a month. We call those our “budget breakfasts.”
This taking a step back is not just a financial thing. It’s a faith practice. There is prayer involved, and giving thanks. I give thanks that my wife and I, though our income levels have fluctuated, for the most part have meaningful work. I give thanks for all of the people who have helped us get to this point as friends, mentors, cheerleaders and collaborators. I give thanks for the gentle but important reminders of why we took on student loans and moved from Washington to California and Minnesota. We did so because of a sense that we wanted to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We wanted to be part of God’s work in the world, and felt like God created us and is calling us to be a part of that work in some way.
When I am able to remember that, being grateful is easy. The challenge comes in that moment where I briefly forget the why which has led to this point in life. That why is grounded in the love of God, and the feeling that all I can do about that love and the gospel is live life abundantly and share that love with others.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and for the ability to help others see their gifts, strengths, and passions. I am grateful for meaning and purpose. But most importantly, I am grateful for hope and love.
What are you grateful for? How do you share and express gratitude?
About the author: Timothy Siburg currently serves as a Communications Associate for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and the COMPASS Initiative. He is happily married to his wife Allison, holds a couple MA degrees, and currently calls Minnesota home. You can read more about him and some of the other questions he wrestles with at his own blog.
This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.