The Blessing of a Grateful Heart

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We feel like ticking time bombsI’m convinced that we are all living with shorter fuses these days. I know I feel it sometimes. Most folks point to the pandemic and global instability, while others point to the ongoing political turmoil and racial division. Of course, there’s always China…. or is it Russia this week? I don’t know, you pick. The point is, I don’t think, as difficult as it may seem, that we are facing unprecedented hardship as countless others have in the past and even the present. Study some history, and you will know. Yet, somehow, we are led to feel as if we are losing something, missing something, aggrieved, accused, denied, or worse, attacked.

I’m convinced that the media plays an enormous role in creating this angst and fear we feel; they expose our inner-most insecurities and build distrust, then social media does the rest to take us over the edge. I run a few Christian women’s groups, and yes, things have been rough over the past couple of years. When I hear about the many challenges we face as women, it can be disheartening. But you know the one thing that seems to help? It’s when we get together to share our challenges, our pain, our struggles or failures or revel in the things that bring us joy and touch our hearts. We will laugh about a silly thing a child did or laugh about the insane cousin that does and say outrageous things.   Sometimes there are tears, and other times you have to hold your belly laughing. Yet, in either of those scenarios, when it’s all said and done, we all leave feeling better than we came.

I can give you a laundry list of things that weren’t going my way, things that both rested on my mind and lowered my spirit. My kids didn’t land the summer jobs they wanted, I can’t seem to lose the 40lbs I’ve been trying to lose for eight months, I’m not keeping up with the cleaning as I once did, my laundry room looks like a bomb went off. Also, more painful hurts like my beloved aunt’s dementia, the ongoing pain of a loved one, and the loss of someone close. I could truly go on and on…and on….

Time and time again, I’ve heard this said in so many ways… Write a gratitude journal, recite what you’re grateful for each day, etc. But those exercises never stick until I hear about the enormous loss or pain of a dear friend, loved one, or even strangers like those parents in Texas. Then I muster the strength needed to come alongside my friends and sister. I help hold them up and walk alongside them through their dreadful chapter. It is at that time life becomes intensely precious, thick sticky honey sweet. Sweeter than it has ever been before and uncomfortably fragile. Suddenly, the laundry, my weight, the summer jobs, and the dementia all flutter into darkness like the smoke on a snuffed candle, and my worries instantly have no weight. Then I spend my time in deep gratitude for the enormous blessings in my life that now seem insurmountable, unbelievable and completely unearned.

Remember to be grateful

Therefore, I am convinced that whenever we start to list the many things we don’t have, listen to dissenting voices or focus on what we are missing in our lives, flip the script. Instead, give to someone the things you need most, which usually boils down to love, connection, and a reminder that we are not alone. Remind them of the many blessings in their lives so that you can remember the incalculable amount in yours.

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