Years ago, God prompted me to begin a journey of gratitude. We were smack in the middle of our darkest days through infertility. Those days before I met the specialist, the months that always ended with a “negative,” that was the hardest part of the process for me. It was inactive. I knew in my heart we were broken. This would not work for us. We would need help. But waiting is the sentence we were given. And it felt very much like someone had spoken death over us in that waiting. Every part of me was bone tired. I had reached the point where I had grown so very weary of the death and sadness and the “why me’s.”
In all battles, in all suffering, in every mountain we tell to move, each of us has a bottom. A point at which we are simply over the pity party we keep throwing for ourselves.
Or we don’t. The bottom never comes. Instead, we continue down the road of whoa-is-me and we lose hope entirely.
I had witnessed both.
But, truthfully, I had zero idea how to get out of that bottom. Because real life was all around me and real life tended to consistently remind me of the exact thing I was missing.
Standing in a checkout line, somewhere, behind a mother and her kids. The children are likely being disrespectful, disobedient or loud. Possibly all three. The mother has had enough. There is yelling. Maybe a pulled arm to get them back in line. Crying begins and the mother seems completely indifferent, if not down right giddy, about the crying.
While I stand behind her, watching, and wanting nothing more than to wrap those precious children in my arms and cover them with kisses. Praying, Lord, why does she get to have kids? Look at her. She’s barely keeping it together. One more move from those adorable, miraculous, babies and she’s gonna blow. She’s not grateful AT ALL. If you’d just give me a baby, I would be forever grateful. Like FOR. EVER. No yelling. No giddiness over crying. Pinky-promise.
One of those times, in the middle of my self-righteousness and ignorance, in the back of my black-as-night closet, crying into a pillow so my sweet husband wouldn’t hear me, God whispered, “Are you grateful now?”
And that began a wrestling match with God I’d never anticipated.
FOR WHAT, EXACTLY????
Listen, Lord, lots of people have good jobs and loving spouses and nice homes and stocked pantries. For goodness sake. What is this, Africa? (The hub of all suffering, in my very, very, very stupid mind.) That stuff is a given.
But oh, my child, it’s not.
And so, I crawled my way out of that closet and the greatest transformation of my life began.
My first gratitude list appeared as my second post on my blog.
March 28, 2008.
I was grateful for a sunny day, apples, Super Target and The Beatles.
Not a single thing on that list a necessity.
Somewhere I had gotten the idea we needed only be grateful for the big things in life. Food, water, shelter, clothing, provision.
I had missed the little things in life.
And here’s what God taught me, He IS the little things in life.
He is the warm sunshine on my face. He is a sweet apple I can buy on almost any corner store. He is the music that lets us feel young and free. He IS.
Over the years, there were certainly large and even gigantic things, events and, yes, babies, for which I was incredibly grateful. But the greatest transformation of my life was in learning to be grateful for the littlest of things. The smallest details. The moments we might miss if we weren’t living a life of anticipation. Of expecting God to be there. Or searching and listening and waiting for Him to send us a little love note. In those small details, that is where I met God. In a million tiny ways, He taught me who He was.
He called me to Him that day in the closet. In such a gentle, kind, loving way. Not in an accusatory tone, the way I so wanted to call out the mother in the checkout line. No, just a small, simple question. That changed my entire life.
As in so many things in life, I became that mother in the checkout line who’s kids were disrespectful, disobedient and loud. For heaven’s sake. And now when I see that mom, I want to hug HER and tell her how loved and adored she is by the God who created her. That her life is a miracle. That she can be wrapped up in the arms of a loving Father and covered in His grace and mercy.
And then get eye-ball to eye-ball with those kids and tell them to KNOCK IT OFF. Your mommy is a saint and you need a nap.
And also apologize to Africa.
What are you grateful for today?