Tag: grateful

Hope and Gratitude

Hope and Gratitude

I had a moment of weakness yesterday.  Despair.  We’re in a pandemic.  Jayne, my daughter, was emotional because her mom was in the hospital (but not with the virus).  We started home-school . . . something I never, ever wanted to do.  It was the 6th day of choking smoke from the nearby fires.  I’m asthmatic.  My sister evacuated her home.  We had one of Lukas’ friends over for dinner (two days earlier).  He tested positive for COVID, so we started a brand-new quarantine.  And, oh yeah, he’s an at-risk kid and can’t come over for shelter now.

I reached out the way any insane person looking for help might.  I posted on Facebook.  “Well that didn’t help much,” I thought as I read some of the early responses from people who thought I was joking.  But that’s my own fault; I joke more on social media than anything else because everything else starts a fight.  Then I caught myself getting bitter when I saw that some people were responding in what I thought were platitudes.  I went to bed dark and brooding with little hope for the world.

I woke the next morning realizing my sense of existential doom was a bit dramatic.  It might be true, but I really need to focus on what I can control instead of stewing about what I cannot.  Be a force for good, Donald!  So I took a look at my friends’ responses from my post the day before, and one stood out above the others:  “Hope always arises with the practice of gratitude.”  The day before I understood this comment as a platitude, but the a good night of sleep behind me and realizing that this comment came from a person I respect a lot I decided to look a little deeper at it.

Gratitude asks of us to look at the world through the lens of status.  It asks us, “what do you have,” not “what have you lost”.  It asks us, “how can I use what I have to make things better,” not “how can I get what I’ve lost back to make things like they were when they were better”.  The former of those two sets of questions is actually useful and the latter of those two sets of questions is not.  Why?  Because time doesn’t move backward.  So if you are like me and you have periods where you lose hope, look backward, and try to reclaim what you have lost, I think my friend on Facebook actually has it right.  Let’s try to be more grateful.

No . . . it’s not a platitude.  Lets see how it could work.  What do I have to be grateful for and how can I use it for good?

  1. I have a job and an income.  I can use that to help a buddy of mine buy a truck to start his own business in the midst of his own employment struggles.
  2. I have a smart phone.  I can use it to call (but mostly text because I’m not a great telephone guy) and check on my friends who are divorcing.  And their kids.
  3. I can write.  I can write this article yes.  But I can also write cards to those to whom I am grateful.  Some people I’m just glad have run in and out of my life.
  4. I have a voice.  I can use it to tell others how we must change as a species so we do not destroy our own ecology.
  5. I have a vote.  I can use it to affect change.
  6. I have a God.  We can talk.

Shift your thinking friends.  Let’s not try to capture the past anymore.  Let’s move on and do the very best we can with what we have.

Gratitude in 2020

Gratitude in 2020

I saw a great meme on my social media that said, “the worst purchase I made in 2019 was a 2020 day-planner.”  What as weird time we live in.  I thrive in organization.  But with no way to plan for things just months in the future I find I’m filled from time to time with a sense of generalized anxiety.  Do any of you feel the same way?  I have to fight my fears just a little bit harder in 2020 than I did in 2019.  And because of my heightened fear reflex I have to be even more intentional with how I express generosity.  My fear tells me to keep everything I can because we don’t know how tomorrow may challenge us anew.

But then I engage my spirit and I realize that every day before this day has been the same since the Earth began rotating.  We never really know what will happen in the days set before us.  At any moment, like the book of Job teaches us so well, our world could be turned upside-down.  So I’ve chosen for this entry to focus on a scripture one doesn’t normally focus upon when considering generosity: 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Be Thankful!  Be Grateful for what you have!  We hear those two things so often that they seem like white noise to me.  Besides, they don’t sound like sound fiscal planning to a guy like me in a job like I have.  When I hear “Give thanks” I always want to follow it with “and try to plan so that you have reason to be thankful in the future”.  Or when I hear “Be grateful” I want to add “and make sure every dollar has a purpose.”  Personally, I have moments of thankfulness and gratitude each and ever day, and they always touch me in ways I cannot adequately express in words.  But what I am lacking is the phrase that is only mentioned in the Bible in this one place by the Apostle Paul, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding”.  My moments of gratitude to not make me feel safe . . . at least not when they are moments I only experience in my head.

So I suppose what I am trying to get at is this.  I need in my life, and I’d like to challenge you in yours too, to experience gratitude while in touch with the Spirit also.  That seems to be the kind of gratitude that inspires generosity.  It’s a deeper, more peaceful, more satisfying sense of gratitude than just making a list of the reasons you have to be happy.  And the generosity inspired by this depth is a response to the fact that God gives you air and the permission to breathe it in and out each day you live as long as you live.

In this time and place I pray God may bring me, may bring you, that peace which surpasses all understanding.  Because if it could be understood it would just be in your head.

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