Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Choosing Gratitude

Do you ever get into an ingratitude rut? When it seems like all you can focus on are your trials, hardships and irritations, as small as they might be?

I have been struggling with this. Really struggling.

You wanna hear the rut which my train of thought has lately fallen into? (If not, simply skip this paragraph to avoid the whining) Here we go. I had been looking forward to redoing our deck this spring and it looks like another year will come and go without us being able to do it. We received an explanation of benefits statement recently stating that Premera will not cover the testing we had Noah go through this spring for vision therapy, even though they said they would. Not sure how we will pay for that when the actual bill comes. I continue to be fighting off the cold I got in mid-April, although at this point maybe it's been ten different colds. Money is tight. There is an endless list of house projects that gets additional items added much more quickly than any items get checked off. My lower back continues to be touchy and hurts for a day or two it seems if I so much as sit too long. I have a hangnail. My heels are dry. I need a haircut. Wah wah waaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Jason has listened to more than the usual amount of venting from me lately. On a side note, he really is like the best husband ever. Sorry ladies, but I am married to the winner in this category. As my  mom wrote in his birthday card last weekend, "Rebecca knew what she was doing when she fell for you - You are a fantastic husband and father." Well, I'm not sure if I really knew what I was doing more so than just fell blissfully in love and really scored, but she is completely right about the fantastic husband and father bit.

Anyhoo, making my ingratitude worse has been the guilt. I absolutely, one hundred percent know that we are extraordinarily blessed and feel ashamed of the feelings of ingratitude and of envy I sometimes have of those who have more money than we do. On the day that we received the statement from Premera, I really struggled. I had been working on my attitude and was so angry and frustrated with this new setback. I cried a lot that day and looking for comfort and guidance, I prayed and opened my Bible. This is what I read:
Satan replied to the Lord, "Skin for skin! A man will give up everything to save his life. But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!"

"All right, do with him as you please," the Lord said to Satan. "But spare his life." So Satan left the Lord's presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.

Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, "Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die."

But Job replied, "You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?" So in all this, Job said nothing was wrong. (Job 2: 4-10)
Umm, I'm sorry, but in the moment, I was not really in a very good place to hear this. In fact, I was a little annoyed. This was not the comfort I was looking for, but really only added to my sense of guilt. I mean, if Job could accept boils all over his body and all of his other trials, what was so wrong with me that I couldn't deal with my small problems more maturely and graciously?

I closed my Bible, prayed some more and opened it again. This is what I read:
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. (Colossians : 1-4)
Now that's what I'm talking about! :) There's some serious comfort. This is something I can actually do and really, that I already do. Jenny says I talk about heaven more than anyone she knows. I like that. And now, when I am feeling jealous or envious, not only will I try to think of my blessings, but also of the paradise waiting for me in heaven and of my pursuit to get there so I can enjoy it. If I'm truly being honest, I hope it includes wine, good food, breathtaking scenery, and partying and dancing with all of my loved ones.

In Engaged Encounter, we speak a lot about how love is not just a feeling, but it is a decision. Well, as I have struggled with all of this, I have come to realize that it is the same with gratitude. It's not just a feeling. Sure, I have moments in my life that I am overwhelmingly overcome with a sense of gratitude.

But what about the rest of the time? What about when there are bills to pay, a dinner that I've planned and begun to make but isn't working out because I didn't read the recipe thoroughly enough, diapers to change, an aching back and an argument with my husband? (Yes, although he is the most wonderful husband, we do still argue. But it's usually my fault.) What about then? It's not as though I can simply make a list of my blessings and then feel grateful in a sincere, real way.

But what about this: What about gratitude is a choice. What about making a commitment to gratitude and to God, in good times and in bad?

And if I really, really stretch myself, another thought can form. My hardships make me grow. My hardships bring me closer to God. The growth I experience through my struggles brings me closer to heaven. My problems prepare me for the path that God has laid in front of me.

When I really work on this, really choose gratitude and make a commitment to it, I can even feel grateful for my struggles.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment on Mamma Vintage! I love to hear your thoughts and experiences.