***Please note that these musings are not intended to be a lecture or sermon. They're definitely not intended as a sign of how "good" I am or as evidence that I've got the craziness of life figured out in the least but are often for my own self as I ponder the person I hope to be. I just hope that maybe by sharing them they might help someone else along the way.***
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life has always had a lot of ups and downs. We all have them. It’s just part of being human. Sometimes we may look around at all the platitudes of perfection that are on social media or the covers of our favorite magazines and wonder why it seems like we’ve unfairly received more than our fair share of the downs though. After all, why can’t we have a fairy godmother come and make everything work out? Wouldn’t that just be so much nicer? I know I’ve spent more than my share of hours wishing for just such a thing.
The thing about wishing for what we don’t have though is that it doesn’t allow us to think of just how blessed we are. One of the memes I saw recently that really struck home said something to the effect of while we’re busy wishing for all the things we wish we had someone else is wishing for the things we have already been blessed with. Definitely something to think about when we start whining about things that really won’t make a difference 5 days from now or even 5 years.
We may never know why things work out the way they do but dwelling on the what might have beens or the way we wish things were only brings us down. If instead we think about the things that we do have to be grateful for we realize that each of us has been given so many amazing gifts that we can’t even really begin to start counting them.
This lesson really hit home for me when someone was discussing how gratitude affects our prayers. They suggested considering how long we usually pray for and then taking that amount of time and trying to write out as many of our blessings as we could think of. When the time was up review the list and then ponder what life would be like if you woke up the next morning with only the things on your list.
I’m definitely not perfect at it, even though I tend to think of myself as a fairly positive person I’ve realized lately just how often I let the bad take control over the good and start in on the whining and complaining and dreamily wishing. Now don’t get me wrong, wishing is fine but we’ve got to be willing to put some action behind it and make it happen. When we start going down those empty negative roads we just end up feeling even more negative and it snowballs on itself but when we stop and intentionally turn ourselves towards gratitude it’s like a whole new world of joy opens up before us.
Like I said, I know we all go through things though and sometimes it really is just ridiculous little stuff but sometimes it’s hard - really hard. As I gain more perspective on life I realize that even in those darkest of moments when I’ve felt like there’s nothing but me and the storm there have been blessings and lots of them– blessings of strength, comfort, friendship, care, and so much more. I can realize looking back that I really wasn’t as alone as I felt and I know that I wouldn’t change any of those moments because they have taught me so much and helped me become the person I am. If that’s true than when moments of wind and hail come I probably need to focus on the lessons I’m learning and the growth I’m achieving if I want to keep moving forward in the future and trust and have faith that things will continue to work out as I do so.
I’m so thankful for this time of year when we can all take a little time to ponder our gratitude and allow it to help shape us instead of allowing pride and jealousy destroy the beauty all around us. My wish is that it will help us all find a little more joy and a little more love and realize amidst all the false enticements and notions of "reality" the things that matter most.