Sometimes I think of my relationship with God like I'm a fair-weathered friend. I need something? I'll pray about or for it, and once I feel that prayer is answered, I move on. Things are going well? "Oh, hey God, sorry I forgot about you for a bit. Haven't really needed you much recently." Yikes. Sound familiar to anyone? Translate this relationship to a human friendship, and I don't think it's one I want to have.
There are some things you can do to counter this fair-weathered friendship. When I find myself being blessed by the Lord, prayers are being answered and things are going well - instead of moving on and forgetting about Him until the next "need", I focus my prayers on gratitude. Stopping to recognize the blessings in front of me, pausing to say "thank you, Lord" for the smallest things in my day, up to the biggest most life-changing answered prayers - these things can transform my perspective from a relationship of "use" to a relationship of continual connection with the Lord.
Maybe your prayers haven't been answered yet. Maybe you're in the waiting phase, unsure of how it will end. Do you find it difficult to express gratitude? I know I sure do. Here are a few things I've found helpful for showing gratitude during times like these:
1. Writing down 3-5 things you're grateful for that day at the end of the day. When you're waiting for a prayer to be answered or you're in the thick of a period of suffering - this can be incredibly difficult. Focus on the small things - your cup of coffee in the morning, the time you got to yourself to take a shower, the birds chirping outside, the fact that your house has electricity and running water. Calling to mind the tiny blessings of each day can shift your mindset and help you refocus on the positive.
2. Even more challenging in the midst of struggle, can be actually vocalizing your gratitude. I challenge myself to list 1 or 2 things out loud in front of my kids. If one of them points out a pretty flower, try saying "Wow! Thank you Lord for this beautiful flower." You can do this with literally anything - getting to school safely, being able to buy your groceries for the week, having fun toys to play with, etc. All of these things not only center your mind on the positive aspects of your day, but also set an example for your kids of how easy it can be to show gratitude to God.
3. Along these same lines, challenge your kids to share what they are grateful for from the day. So often, they will list off the tiniest of things, that seem so insignificant to us - but are really a reflection of what sincere gratitude can look like.
4. Send a hand written thank you note to someone. This seems like a lost art today - but I always feel so loved and appreciated when someone takes the time to send a thank you note in the mail. I definitely need to work on doing this on my end. You could also put a "Catholic spin" on your thank you note by telling them you are saying a novena for them, or offering a spiritual bouquet for their intentions. Perhaps you could even send them a DIY spiritual bouquet as a physical token of your gratitude!
I hope you find these ideas helpful in some way!