The holiday season is almost among us, and it’s my favorite time of the year! The aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg, big fuzzy sweaters, time spent cozied up on the couch with the kids watching Christmas movies (far too early), pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream, and of course, the overwhelming feelings of gratitude for all my blessings. What can be better than that?
In the past I always thought of thankfulness as one day with family, where we ate and reflected on our blessings. And that was about it. But over the past few years, God has been teaching me more and more about the power of gratitude daily.
Last year I wrote a post about thankfulness being the very tool we can use to swipe out our anxiety. That was a huge learning opportunity for me. I realized that worry and anxiety pull me into the future or past while gratitude keeps me grounded in the present. And I want to live in the present.
Not only can gratitude fight off anxiety and help us stay present, but it’s also an extremely powerful tool for evangelism. When we show raw, authentic, and even vulnerable gratitude toward others, especially toward strangers and non-believers, it softens their hearts and prepares them to allow God in.
I saw this firsthand three years ago when our house was being built. I prayed the whole time that God would dwell in that home; that it would be a home full of his peace and love. And one day when praying, I felt a huge impression from the Lord to write a heartfelt thank you letter to the construction workers and to all the people involved in building our house.
In my letter I shared about some very serious financial difficulties my husband and I walked through, and how much of a gift this house really was to us. I shared how each person who works in our home is so special to us and has played an enormous role in creating this dream for us. I reminded the builders that what seems like just laminate flooring being laid is really the ground our littles will take their first steps on. That the bathroom countertops are not just merely a couple hours of work, but many nights of my sweet children sitting there learning to brush their teeth (and the oh so difficult task of brushing hair!) I shared that the carpet in the living room was really the soft landing place for millions of jumps off the couch, accompanied by the shrieks of joy from my kids.
At the end, I told them I pray for their safety as they work each day and for blessings on their own families and homes. (And I did!) I added some photos of our son who was two-years old at the time.
I wasn’t sure our project manager would even read it, because I recalled how incredibly busy she was. But God knew she would. And he also knew she was going to print it, and forward it to all the company! She told me later how it brought her to tears, and that she was so happy to see this letter of thanks among the usual many complaints from unhappy homeowners. It was read at meetings, and posted in our home during construction. And you know the coolest part?
One day we were looking through the half-done home, and a construction worker came up to me and said, “Did you write that thank you letter?” I was totally caught off guard, and realized for the first time that a real person had read my vulnerable message and I felt a little embarrassed. But I shyly said, “Yes.” And he smiled and replied, “God bless you. That meant so much.”
It was at that moment I saw the tremendous power of gratitude. God used that very simple letter to show himself to others (many many others!) and he told them they had worth. He told them their work mattered. He told them they were cared for and prayed for and appreciated. And it was a game changer for many who read it.
This Thanksgiving season, God laid it on my heart to write another thank you letter to a hospital unit that helped my sweet little girl heal from a significant burn a year ago. What I didn’t realize before the first letter was written was just how linked gratitude and evangelism can be!
So who can you share God with through vulnerable, raw, and authentic gratitude this Thanksgiving season? Amidst the craziness of the holidays, take some time in front of the cozy fireplace, make some cinnamon tea, and write someone a heartfelt thank you note – someone who’s not expecting it – and share your biggest gift with them: Christ.
Sarah Gonzalez is a stay-at-home mom who loves Jesus and caring for her two young children. She loves date nights and walks with her husband, and using creativity and humor through artistic outlets like writing and photography. You can learn more about her photography business at Sarah Gonzalez Photography.