Heartprints

3 Disturbing Gratitude Trends

It seems like everyone is doing the 30 day Gratitude Challenge. I am all for gratitude, but I am noticing a few trends that make me just a little bit uneasy.

Trend #1: “Me-Centric” posts. They may go something like this:

Day 1: I am thankful for my…

Day 2: I love my…

Day 3: I am so grateful to have a …

Is it just me, or is this over-focus on “me-centeredness” just another symptom of our self-indulgent society? What if a post went something like this?

Day 4: I am thankful for apologizing to a homeless man after I ignored his question and watching God work in both our hearts.

Trend #2: A lack of substance.  I think we should be thankful for all good gifts. I really do. But, let’s be honest. How many of us have already seen something like this:

Day 1: I am thankful for pink jelly beans.

Day 2: I am thankful for chocolate.

Day 3: I am thankful for my cell phone.

Then said person realized all her thankfulness posts have to do with material things and thought long and hard to come up with something people related. Hence:

Day 4: I am thankful for a loving family.

Now there is nothing wrong with being thankful for a loving family or pink jelly beans or any good gift, but I think God wants us to take gratitude a step further.

We are commanded to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). What might this look like on Facebook?

Day 5: I am thankful for extra time to pray this morning while stuck in a traffic jam.

Trend # 3: A lack of communal gratitude. Now, the great irony with this one is that these  posts are being shared on platforms where the whole community can view them. But is this really practicing shared gratitude? Maybe, but I am not so sure.

What would happen if instead of posting “I am thankful for pink jelly beans,” we asked a friend face to face “What are you thankful for today?”

Now, I know many of us are really enjoying these expressions of thankfulness, and if we find ourselves growing in gratitude because of this, then praise God.

But, here is my challenge for you: direct your gratitude upward in praise to God, try to think beyond the surface level, and try to incorporate another person in your thankfulness conversations (off line).

What about you: (1) Have you enjoyed reading people’s thankful lists? (2) Do you think we are developing gratitude in our lives through activities like this or just the appearance of gratitude? and (3) How do you encourage gratitude in your own families?

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Sarah Bowler

Sarah is the author of Bathsheba’s Responsibility in Light of Narrative Analysis, contributor to Vindicating the Vixens, and contributing editor for The Evangelism Study Bible. Some of her previous ministry experiences have included teaching and mentoring of adults and children in a wide variety of settings. Her small claim to fame is that she has worked with children of every age range from birth through high school over the past 20 years. She and her husband Ben reside in Richardson, Texas with their four children.

2 Comments

  • Avatar

    Nancy Jean

    Thankfulness

    I have to agree with you that many of the posts are me-centered.  However, I appreciate hearing those, as well.  One friend started posting them six weeks ago — and his have been exceptionally meaty, and have encouraged me!  Some people have a hard time shring deep thoughts openly, and I understand that, too.

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    • Avatar

      Sarah Bowler

      Thankfulness

      Thanks for commenting Nancy Jean! I am truly glad to hear how you've been encouraged through your friend's posts.

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