by Sandra Stanley
Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a repeating cycle? It might be a negative behavior that relentlessly eats your lunch. Maybe it’s a habit you just can’t seem to shake. Sometimes a repeating cycle has triggers that seem beyond our control. We feel like victims, trapped and unable to break out.
Cycles can be frustrating. They make us feel defeated. Depending on their severity, we might even begin to question our worth.
As a foster mom, I get up close and personal with cycles that plague innocent kids. These kids never asked for the hard circumstances or difficult families in which they were placed. They don’t behave their way in. They are simply victims of repeating cycles. Cycles are no respecters of persons and don’t always ask whether their victims are deserving.
While there is no magic bullet, no perfect formula for breaking out of tough cycles, there is one thing I’ve often seen be powerfully effective.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
In light of the circumstances and cycles in which we find ourselves sometimes, how in the world can we be expected to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful? That seems like crazy talk!
As strange as it seems, gratitude is also a cycle. But rather than perpetuating feelings of defeat and unworthiness, it leads us in the opposite direction. Developing the habit of whispering our thanks to God for the good and for the bad leads us to a place of peace and joy. It takes us to the place where contentment resides.
My friend Ellen Vaughn says it this way in her book Radical Gratitude:
“Gratitude is like a pair of glasses that get progressively sharper: the more I thank, the more I see to be thankful for, and the more I end up praising God.”
Now there is a cycle in which I’d like to be stuck. So, I issue a challenge—give it a try.
Take a look at the good things and the bad things going on in your life. Develop a habit of giving thanks in all circumstances and let’s just see what happens.