At the Root of Joy is Gratitude

This song was the very first song I sang to Ruby when she was born. I sang it to her through the small openings of her incubator in the NICU, hoping that in some small way I could offer her this comfort since I couldn’t hold her in my arms yet. I imagined that for her, everything was new and jarring: the bright lights, the loud beeping alarms, the cold air, the smell of hand sanitizer…all of it, new. However, my hope was that my voice was familiar to her, and that she would feel loved through this song, and so I sang it to her just about every day that she was in the NICU for the next 40 days while she was there. It has an even deeper meaning to me now for that reason, and I hope you’ll feel love when you hear it.

Audio recording and location: June Audio in Provo, Utah
Shot and edited by Lauren Merkley

I tend to find reminders of God’s love and to see His hand in my life when I look at His creations. For that reason, I recently recorded a cover of the song that I just mentioned. It’s one of my most favorite LDS Primary songs, entitled “My Heavenly Father Loves Me” that I want to share with you in hopes that you might feel even just a tiny sense of that love when you listen to it. The words are so sweet and speak pure and simple truths. I especially love the declarations of gratitude in the lyrics.

I used to think that gratitude was my gift to God. However, over the years I’ve been learning that gratitude is my gift to me! God doesn’t need my gratitude…I need it; and that’s why He so lovingly reminds me to practice it.

Proverbs 3: 5,6

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

This has been a favorite scripture of mine for about as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I was an adult though, that I really started to cling to these verses as if my life depended on them. There is something about trust that I feel like I am learning over and over again. It’s as if every challenge and obstacle in my life has been to teach me this one thing– trusting God.

A few years ago, I started to pay attention to verse six instead of just verse five. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” To me, acknowledging God’s hand in my life is the same thing as practicing gratitude; and oh boy, how I have needed gratitude.

In just a few short weeks, my little family and I will be moving to Los Angeles, California. It’s so exciting, but pretty terrifying at the same time. I am clinging to these verses yet again, as we take a leap of faith and move to a huge city where we know only a few people, and are completely unfamiliar to the area and our surroundings. Change is enlivening and frightening all at the same time…interesting how that works.

I’m also aware that my family is in total need for guidance and direction at this point in our lives; and therefore, I am working on acknowledging God’s hand and practicing gratitude more often, just as the verse mentions. When I do this, it not only brings me a sense of peace, but fills my heart with love, and even joy.

I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s book entitled “Daring Greatly” recently, and she talks about gratitude being an antidote for fear and shame, and also at the root and core of joy. I am going to quote her directly because SHE IS AMAZING, and I believe it’ll make more sense this way:

“When I’m standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I’ve learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if I want to know joy. I’m not sure that it will ever be easy for me, but I have learned to trust this practice.”

That is exactly where I feel I am standing at the moment- at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, and it can be a struggle sometimes. Although, as I choose vulnerability and practice gratitude, I feel loved, and am gently reminded that I am not alone, that God was with me, is with me and will continue to be with me always.

How do you practice gratitude? How do you teach it to young children? How do you teach it to teenagers?!

Sometimes I say prayers of only gratitude while I’m driving (if I’m driving more than 15 minutes away, I usually end up bawling in the car as I think of all the things I have to be grateful for, so just a forewarning). Sometimes I write in a gratitude journal each day. What works for you? I’d love to get some new ideas!

And if you’ve listened to this Primary song, I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

With a grateful heart,

 

Meet the Author: Bianca Merkley

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One thought on “At the Root of Joy is Gratitude”

  1. Andra Willis says:

    I needed to read this today Bianca 💜💜 thanks so much for sharing your talent!! Love you and your sweet family!

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