Hakarat Hatov

2018 was a full year. I traveled over 50,000 air miles along with nearly 10,000 road miles. These miles were wrapped with much goodness, and some hard times too. Whether I was on the road or enjoying a break at home, Hakarat Hatov, a Hebrew phrase that means recognizing the good (gratitude), graced my thoughts daily when I saw it on my phone’s lock screen or etched on a metal token that wrapped around my right wrist.

At the start of the year I didn’t understand why the Lord wanted me to focus on gratitude. Not just the act of gratitude, but a reminder to open my eyes to the wonder of life and to be awake to blessings that exist, even in my troubles. This is Hakarat Hatov!

Now that I have hindsight, I see how Hakarat Hatov became a safe landing pad for my heart in countless ways this year: when I walked into new ministry opportunities that felt daunting, when rejection pierced my heart, when weariness wrapped me like a wet blanket, when the fog of loneliness was thick, when doubt and inadequacy danced inside my head, when my bubble of belonging was punctured, and when shalom felt out of reach.

While my initial responses to these challenges turned my heart away from gratitude, Hakarat Hatov reminded me to see the wonder of life through the men and women who know me, love me, and speak truth to me (even when it hurts). Choosing to recognize the good revealed blessings around helping young women find their voices, celebrating the places where golf unites us across cultures, sharing my story and Jesus with people of all ages, resources I have been gifted to bless others, new friendships, and new beginnings.

Hakarat Hatov has ambushed my heart many times over this year. Keeping my eyes open to the wonder of life has kept hope alive when darkness loomed. Remaining awake to blessings that do exist in and around me has kept me steadfast through both the disappointments and the moments of elation. Hakarat Hatov tills, waters, and feeds the soil where the messiness of life resides. It is in this soil where Jesus takes root and our hearts and spirits can bloom.

Dr. Brene’ Brown, author and researcher, writes, “Practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives.” Practicing Hakarat Hatov has brought joy into my life…in both the blessings and troubles throughout this year. And while my word will change for 2019, I will continue recognizing the good.

“It’s not joy that makes us grateful,
it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.”

                                   (unknown Jesuit Priest)

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