A friend of mine asked the other day, “what is the difference between choosing thankfulness or only being thankful when I feel like it.” Simple question, really. But crap. My thoughts were this:
Choosing thankfulness is freaking hard, because I think I’m entitled to more.
I’m entitled to have a limitless grocery budget AND the newest style of ankle boots.
I’m entitled to a house that isn’t just warm and safe, but cute. And MINE.
I’m entitled to control my time. Other people should stop taking that control.
I’m entitled to well behaved kids. I work hard at it.
I’m entitled to have my parents lifestyle at 25 that they have at 55.
I’m entitled to get help around my house with responsibilities. I’m only one person.
I could honestly go on all day. Some of it is far deeper and less surface. And it is really embarrassing and surprising and painful.
Because the truth is, we may even be vulnerable enough to say out loud we are selfish, but are we humble enough to believe it?
When we are faced with someone else’s struggles, with their pain and their poverty, we are sometimes struck with soul piercing gratitude in our own hearts. And I think God is moved by this recognition in our lives.
But I want to be a person who looks less at what I think I deserve and more at what I don’t.
I just typed that and had to sit for some minutes, blinking away tears. Gosh. When I start to look at all the things in my life I think I have earned, I realize that as someone who follows Jesus, these things are all gifts. Things I should be grateful for, not entitled to.
And the most beautiful part, is that God is a father who loves to give great gifts to His children. He is not some depriving, morality police in the sky, glaring down when we get it wrong. I just wonder if in our own stuff, we can’t see what are actual gifts. Or even just the everyday stuff that we should express gratitude for.
I do know this. When I am choosing thankfulness and not just when I “feel” like it, my heart feels better. My attitude is more patient and kind and loving. But more importantly, I trust God most. I think that trusting God with what he is doing in my life, in my daily world, is inextricably connected to a spirit of thankfulness.
Sadly, I know that I am not by nature, quick to be grateful. Perhaps my glass always needs a bit of a top off. But I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone the other day. My 4 year old wanted me to video him jumping off the stairs, and I of course had no room. This is common. So, I did what a good mom would do. I told him to go ask his dad to do it. Then I started looking for stuff to delete. And I simply got caught up.
Picture after picture. Memories of funny, and fits, and messes, and my life. Gratitude came flowing out of me. Rivers of it. I couldn’t tear myself away. And I realize as silly as it sounds, I’m going to practice this. We live in an age where we can and do document our entire lives. What better way to see the things we have to be grateful for, than actually getting to see them??
I’m going to look for them.
When I feel entitled, I’m gonna pull up my dang photostream and choose thankfulness.
When I am angry at what I don’t have, or even hurting, because life is not trite it truly is hard, I’m going to look until I have no choice but to CHOOSE it.
I believe that choosing thankfulness even when I don’t feel it, will point me to place my trust in the God who gives ALL good gifts. Knowing He always has and will continue to do so, I just have to look.