Merriam-Webster tells me gratitude‘s antonyms are ingratitude, thanklessness, unappreciation, ungratefulness.
But in soul-terms, much more could be added to this list. On the polar opposite end of the scale from gratitude we find habits and mindsets like worry, bitterness, spiritual malaise, self-reliance, pride, mistrust, over-busyness, selfishness, consumerism, and self-centeredness.
When our hearts are full of a pervasive and interwoven sense of thanks — a conscious awareness that God has given us oh so much — we’re able to live soul-centered in the peace and joy of the abundant life.
When we don’t? We start to buy into the lie that we don’t have enough, that we just need what’s more or what’s next. We live a life grasping out in all the wrong places for an elusive “satisfaction” that cannot be found in material things.
When we train our sight on the many goodnesses God has poured into our lives — loved ones, friendships, sunrises, smiles, bonds of love, church family, and a multitude of rich spiritual blessings — we’re buoyed when hardship or suffering comes. We can trust God because we know how God has come through for us in the past. We can rely on God even if things turn out badly, for we know from experience that God is good.
When we aren’t strengthening our souls in gratitude? We instinctively respond to trouble with worry and anxiety. Rather than relying on God, we turn inward in self-aggrandizing reliance on our own abilities and efforts to work miracles. And if things don’t get better? We become people poisoned by bitterness and anger.
When we ground ourselves firmly in the notion that God is our provider and everything comes from God, we accept life’s many goodnesses as gifts. We treasure the moments we’re given.
When we lose sight of the true source of all those good things? We rely on ourselves, our sense of place gets all out of whack, and what could be an exciting life filled with small miracles and abundant blessings becomes a ho-hum, just-like-the-world existence.
God is about the business of blessing, of providing, of giving us good gifts. Consider the lilies and the birds of the air . . . or the trees, or the grass, or any human face for that matter! God is worthy not only of our trust but, as a corollary, our deep and ongoing gratitude. When we intentionally live in gratitude, we are empowered to repel the creeping effects of gratitude’s opposites (worry, self-reliance, bitterness, and so on).
“What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. . . . [Y]ou know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. . . . Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow” (Matthew 61:31-33, The Message).
[p.s. Friends. Please ignore any ADVERTISEMENTS that show up at the bottom of my blog posts. My web site server has begun adding advertisements to my site… I need to solve this problem b/c I do not want them. Please don’t click on it. I didn’t put it here! The purpose of this blog is to get _away_ from joy-killers like consumerism and advertising. I hope to solve this problem soon. –Kelli]