Monday, September 15, 2014

Cultivating Gratitude: Day 3

Today has been one of those days that is hard to make sense of…that is, if there is any sense to be made of it. The truth is, most days take the same shape. I wake up ready to greet the day (this has only been redeemed in the last couple of months – there was a stretch when I often just did not want to get out of bed at all), then it is a matter of how long until I plummet. Sometimes the plummeting is caused by a specific trigger (bad news or a moment of self-doubt) and sometimes it is because it is 4:00 pm and I haven’t eaten enough in the afternoon – it is literally like a switch being flipped. 

Today was no exception. This morning was filled with so much encouragement. As I opened my email to catch up on the weekend messages, I had a few photography inquiries, a partnership inquiry, encouraging messages as well as a writing inquiry and I also found an article that had been solicited by an organization but I was unaware had indeed been published. Later in the morning however, I heard some discouraging news (not even to do with me directly) and of course, my mood plummeted.  This small, somewhat inconsequential piece of news had the power to make all the encouraging moments of the morning vanish in the blink of an eye and cause my self confidence, my trust, my optimism to become obsolete. Then, instead of freely accepting the encouraging moments as just that, encouragement, I asked Why? There must be something of this? What does it mean? Is this just to get my hopes up? Is it not good enough that I was at least considered even if nothing comes of it? So much of Ben's life and my life is like that. We have become so skeptical of the encouragement, of glimmers of hope, of an interview, a call back or an inquiry. We pray for encouragement, we pray for something, anything, when in reality, God gives us these things, these moments and then we spit on them. 

Today, I am grateful for this morning. Even if nothing comes of any of it. I am grateful for the moments, the messages and the emails that say, you are doing what you are supposed to, what you are called to, what you are gifted at. Keep going.

"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. 
If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never ever have enough."
- Oprah Winfrey

Cultivating Gratitude: Day 2

When my children pray, it follows a standard pattern. It goes something like this,

“Dear God,
Thank you for this day. Thank you that we could go to Grandma’s house and have ice cream. Thank you that we could have a new baby.

What strikes me about this is first of all, that we have taught our children that prayer consists mainly of giving thanks as opposed to asking for things. This is in part because we identified early the problem of ingratitude, which we feel is especially prominent around birthdays and Christmas time and would at times, specifically say, “Thank God for three things.” (Much like the gratitude challenge going around Facebook). But I can’t help but wonder if it is also because children do not see "needs" as we adults do. As far as they are concerned they have food on the table and it is accessible whenever they want it - they just have to ask or help themselves out of the refrigerator. They have a warm bed, nice clothes and a roof over their heads. And while I do not think that these things should be taken for granted, what strikes me is that they trust because they are already proven to be provided. Why should they doubt that it will be there tomorrow when it is there today?

I am so grateful for my children. They teach me so much about how to love God and how to trust. When I think about what Gratitude is, it would seem that it is so much more than being thankful. It is not only giving thanks but freely accepting what I have given thanks for without reservation or skepticism – not with fear that it will be gone tomorrow but with an acknowledgement that that which has been provided is an expression of God’s infinite love for me.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cultivating Gratitude: Day 1

On September 12th, I posted on twitter "10 years of _______________". 

What do you say about ten years of marriage? It certainly has not be "bliss" but rather ten years of some of the best days of my life, some of the worst days of my life, challenges, blessings, tears, laughter, fighting, loving and generally slogging through the mire until you are so weary you feel like you could collapse. In the low times, I asked myself would things be different if I hadn't married a musician? You know, married for money and not for love? 

But the reality is, I always come back to the same answer. Yes, things would be different...but I wouldn't trade what Ben and I have for anything. I look around at the couples that seem to have it all - the nice house, the financial security, the beautiful things and yet, too many of them come to a point where no amount of money can resolve their discontentment and differences and they part ways. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must feel like to be in a marriage where one or both individuals feel unloved, disrespected or trapped.

I am so grateful for Ben. I am grateful that despite his challenging occupation of choice, he is a man of integrity and follower of Jesus Christ. He is steadfast, caring and gentle. He is still my favourite person to be with and while he is a poor cook and can never seem to face the towels in the correct direction in the linen closet, he is a wonderful father. I am so grateful that while we are so completely different in so many ways, we enjoy so many of the same things like travelling, going on adventures, eating good food and showing hospitality. And I am grateful that the we have had each other through the hard times - that we have not had to travel the rough patches alone but had one another to pick the other up when we felt that we could not go on.

It hasn't always been easy. And I am sure there will be times in the future that will be worse than I ever thought possible (although after the last two years, I doubt it) but no matter what life throws our way, my hand in yours and ours in God's gives me strength. 

"Happy is the man who finds a true friend, 
and far happier is he  who finds that true friend in his wife."
-Franz Schubert

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