Why Can’t I Just Be Thankful?
by Rhonda Stoppe
“For goodness sakes, don’t you ever have anything good to say?” Dave shouted as he walked out of the house–slamming the door behind him.
Kim stood alone in the kitchen fighting back her tears. She knew she had once again crossed over the line with her husband. She thought, I can’t believe I just did it again!”
Dave and Kim had been married for five years. All in all their marriage seemed to work. Dave was a good man who worked hard to provide for his family while Kim worked at home crafting items for her online store.
Since quitting her full-time job to try her hand at being self-employed Kim had somehow become more irritated and controlling over her family. The more she worked from home, the more she felt the need to have everything in its place so she could focus on her projects. Rather than be distracted by all the little messes that tended to pile up around her.
Kim knew her obsession with controlling her work environment was…
…spilling out in how she interacted with Dave. Her not-so-subtle attempts to manipulate her husband to step up to her expectations was emotionally driving him away from her.
Kim was fully aware of the change in their relationship. And for the most part, she realized the change was of her own doing. Over and over she would promise herself to let things go and not to harp on her family. Yet time after time Kim found herself in yet another confrontation with Dave.
When she accused him of not caring about helping her succeed in her business she immediately regretted her words as she saw how they cut to Dave’s very heart.
In rational moments Kim would admit to herself how very much Dave had stepped up to help her pursue her dream to start her own business. She was fully aware of the financial sacrifice the family was making to support Kim’s business startup.
She chided herself, “You know what a great guy Dave is. You know he has given up a lot to let you pursue your dream. So what if he didn’t mow the lawn or take out the trash. Give the guy a break. He loves you. He’s trying. Why can’t you just be thankful?”
DOES KIM’S STORY SOUND FAMILIAR?
Do you relate to Kim’s conflicting circumstances? Do you find yourself so focused on goals that you grow discontented with the people who get in your way?
For me when my kids were little my goals were on just making it through another day not losing my temper with my littles. And keeping the house clean enough that I wouldn’t die of embarrassment should my mother-in-law happen to stop by––Maybe you can relate?
So why is it we forget to be thankful and what can we do about it?
Wives and moms often operate in survival mode. When you are struggling to keep your head above water it is easy to forget about all of God’s blessings.
Think about it. If you found yourself treading water for hours do you think your prayer would be, “God, thank you so much for that one more breath I just took. Thank you that I’m strong enough to keep treading water.”
No, I think your prayer would more likely be a panicked cry for help. In the same way when you live in a keep-your-head-above-water existence rather than thanking God for the family and home He has given you, you’re more likely to focus on the immediate need to survive and forsake being thankful all together.
In 1 Timothy 6:6 the Apostle Paul reminds us:
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
While you know the teaching on the value of contentment, living out what you know to be true is easier said than done. You need help––right?
Fortunately, you are not alone in the ministry of marriage and motherhood. If God has called you to these ministries, then He is the One who can provide you His strength to joyfully live out His calling.
Chastising yourself the next time you spew out unthankful words is not the way to become more thankful. All that will do is make you feel more guilty and less equipped to change.
Rather, it’s time to take some steps toward change. Let’s look at four ways to help you become a grateful wife and mother.
Think about what you think about. Being thankful is a mindset. Thankful people are thankful people because they choose to focus on their blessings––rather than their disappointments.
Learn a lesson from “the-glass-is-half-full” kind of people. They simply refuse to focus on what is not left in their cup. They remind themselves of all the good that is left to enjoy.
Thankful thinking does not come naturally for most of us. And if you have been raised in an environment that focuses on the negative you may think, “That’s just the way I am. I cannot change.”
May I offer you this hopeful encouragement? I grew up learning to focus on the negative––passed down through generations of women in my family.
However, my mother-in-law was the most positive person I had ever met. I found myself drawn to her joyful outlook. And more importantly she inspired me to become a thankful person as well.
Change did not come for me over night––it won’t for you either. But it’s worth the fight. The more I took captive the negative thoughts that would try to find their way into my mind, the more power God gave me to think only on what is good, right, honorable and praiseworthy. And God can do the same for you (see 2 Corinthians 10:5, Philippians 4:8-9).
- Recognize the sin. Being unthankful is sinful, plain and simple. When you are ready to confess your sin of ingratitude, He is ready to forgive you and help you break free from the bondage of an unthankful heart.
- Ask God for help. In Isaiah 41:10 God promises:
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- Wash your mind with Truth. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). So the way to recognize if your mind is dwelling on the positive or negative is to listen to what comes out of your mouth.
If constant negativity streams from you lips, you can know that you are thinking negative thoughts. Victory comes when you wash your mind with Truth to transform your focus to good (see Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 5:26).
Philippians 2:13 promises: “It is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Be encouraged, if you have a desire to become a thankful person recognize it is God at work in you to make you more like Jesus. And for that you can be thankful!
Listen to a short excerpt of Rhonda teaching: The Grass is Not Greener
Rhonda Stoppe is the NO REGRETS WOMAN. With more than 30 years experience of helping women live life with no regrets.
Rhonda Stoppe’s book MOMS RAISING SONS TO BE MEN is mentoring thousands of moms to guide sons toward a no-regrets life. Her new book IF MY HUSBAND WOULD CHANGE I’D BE HAPPY-And Other Myths Wives Believe (Harvest House Publishers) is helping countless women build no-regrets marriages. As a pastor’s wife, speaker, and author, Rhonda has helped women to:
- Discover significance and purpose for their lives
- Impact the moral fiber of the next generation by raising children with integrity
- Find victory over people-pleasing
- Experience a No Regrets Marriage
- Build an incredible legacy
- Become more influential than they ever dreamed possible
-Listen to Rhonda’s message: Staying in Love
-Read Rhonda’s Book: IF MY HUSBAND WOULD CHANGE I’D BE HAPPY
*Excerpt from Chapter 1 – IF MY HUSBAND WOULD CHANGE I’D BE HAPPY (Harvest House Publishers)