If you hear the word ADVENT what is the first image that comes to your mind? Candles? Wreath? Liturgy. Purple. the hymn “O come Emmanue?” These are some answers people have given over the years. What is yours? Mine is NEW YEAR’S resolution because Advent is the perfect time for a new spiritual resolution. I’ll share mine. This year, ADVENT 2016, my spiritual resolution is to have an Attitude of Gratitude.
I don’t know about you, but I have this uncanny propensity to look at what is missing in my life and pine after what I do not have. It’s like looking at a delicious donut and instead of enjoying it, just looking at and saying something like “Hey, there’s a piece missing in the middle! And I need to have it!” It is a tendency that touches not only the material dimensions of life, but the intangible as well … talents, skills, knowledge, my effectiveness in given situations, and, yes, even graces received and my progress toward holiness. In a way this attitude is good, in as much as it keeps me aspiring toward the greatness of holiness and bettering the world around me. Yet, it is completely one-sided and, if not checked, can quickly lead an unbalanced, uncharitable and fundamentally negative view of life.

The solution? For me, I have found it to be developing a balancing counterpart. That is, a consistent attitude of gratitude. While not ignoring what is potentially missing or in need of development in my life, it entails learning to simultaneously looking at what I do have. Then, of course, giving thanks to God for it. In other words, looking at the donut and saying, “Hey, there’s a hole in the middle, AND, wow! Look at that amazing chocolate glaze sprinkled with coconut. Thank you, Lord!” It involves pondering all the blessings and gifts that come alongside what is missing and truly appreciating them with a grateful heart. Sometimes it may be necessary for me to fill that empty hole because it is truly something in my life that God wants me to develop, but sometimes I realize that the hole doesn’t need to be filled. It is there to help me be humble and grateful for what I have and a call to further enjoy or develop the blessings of God already bestowed upon me. To do this delights our Lord and gives Him the honor and glory that are His by right.
Now! I’ve shared mine. What’s yours?