Mercy Multiplied and HMHB will both forever hold a special place in my heart. Before going to Mercy, I had no hope for a life or a future. I spent my whole life trying to hide from and numb the traumatic experiences from my childhood. I struggled with numerous issues- an eating disorder, self-harm, depression, anxiety, suicide, promiscuity, alcohol abuse- and the list goes on. The months leading up to applying for Mercy, I truly believed I had nothing left to live for. But God, in all his goodness and sovereignty, still had such a beautiful and wonderful plan for my life- I just couldn’t see or believe it at the time.
God chose to use Mercy to literally save my life and set me free. I am a completely different, whole, and new person since graduating. The amazing thing is that God continues to draw me closer to Him, and each year even though I wonder how it’s possible, I end up freer, more healed, and in love with Him.
God has been teaching me recently that one of the ways I continue to walk in freedom is by pursuing and cultivating a heart and life of gratitude. To me, this is different than making a gratitude list, although that is a powerful tool as well.
3 Ways Gratitude Keeps Me Free
Three things stand out to me regarding how I cultivate gratitude in my life.
I remember my past, my story, and how hopeless things were before God transformed me. I don’t dwell on the past anymore. I don’t have pity parties for my past, and I certainly don’t glorify my sin from the past. What remembering my past means to me is reflecting on what life used to look like so that I can thank God for the life he has given me now. It’s certainly not a perfect life, but I have such wonderful friends and family, an incredible church, and hopes, dreams, and passions worth pursuing. When I remember where I’ve come from and where I am now, I can’t help but be grateful, even on the hard days.
I share with others my story and what God has done in my life. Sharing is like remembering, but I find it produces an even greater harvest of gratitude and faith. I know it encourages others to hear about the power of God, but whenever I share what He has done, I feel like I receive the greater blessing because we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimonies. I overcome when I make the choice to speak of my healing and freedom- and the gratitude starts flowing. When I speak of His goodness, I can’t keep that gratitude contained or hidden. It comes pouring out.
I thank God.
I thank God even on the hard days, and I thank Him for things that don’t turn out the way I hope or expect. It’s not easy, and I don’t do it perfectly. I sometimes even do it with tears streaming down my face, but when I thank him for the hard day, or for not getting the job promotion, or for whatever disappointment comes my way, it slowly but steadily turns into gratitude, because its another opportunity to draw near and trust in Him.
I recently was able to go back and visit the St Louis Mercy home, the home I graduated from in 2015. I’ve lived so much life since graduating from Mercy, but in that moment, the memories felt as fresh as if they had happened yesterday. I surrendered so much to God in my time there and watched Him do so many miracles in my life. Don’t dwell on your yesterdays, but don’t forget them either. As you remember and share what God has done in your life, your heart will begin to swell with gratitude for all He’s done in you and for you, and as you thank God in every circumstance, watch Him empower you to continue walking in freedom. Gratitude keeps us free!