Posted on Leave a comment

The Grace of Gratitude

“And one of life’s gifts is that each of us, no matter how tired and downtrodden, finds reason for thankfulness”

Unknown

My brother and I now joke about the infamous “Ungrateful” speech we would hear growing up from our mother. She would get on us whenever we demonstrated an attitude of ungratefulness. She would remind us of how blessed we were, how the things we had (material and nonmaterial) some people would never have. Not that we should ever compare what we have to what others don’t to have an attitude of gratitude, but it helps to put things in their right perspective. Those dreaded ungrateful speeches have been etched in my heart. And I’ve learned that there is always something to be grateful for.

“Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

One of my favorite gospel songs is “Thank You Lord” by Walter Hawkins. Whenever life begins to weigh on me, and I begin to think of all the hardships, obstacles, pain, and the struggle. When I start to feel sorry for myself and when depression looms near. When I look at all I have lost and the past comes storming in, seemingly from nowhere I hear these lyrics:

“Tragedies are commonplace.

Economy’s down, people can’t get enough pay.

 But as for me All I can say is,

Thank you Lord, for all you’ve done for me.

It could have been me, outdoors.

With no food and no clothes

or all alone without a friend

or just another number with a tragic end.

But you didn’t see fit, to let none of these things be

and every day by your power, you keep on keeping me.

Thank you, lord, for all you’ve done for me”

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you’, that would suffice”

Meister Eckhart

I have said many times, if I never receive another blessing for the rest of my life, I’ve already received enough to say thank you over and over for the rest of my life. I’ve learned that there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Always. Breath, life, health, and strength.  (I know I sound like a Friday night testimony service). I can walk, talk, see and hear. There are some people who need someone to come and bathe them. I can hop in the shower whenever I want, and I have hot water. I have a roof over my head. I have food to eat. I have a place to rest my head. These things are more valuable than we realize. I am in my right mind. That is a huge blessing. I look at what I’ve been through and I am surprised I haven’t had a nervous breakdown. I survived what should have ended me. For that I am grateful. I don’t have as much money as I like, but my needs are always being met. A way is always made. Always. For that I am grateful.

“Seeds of discouragement will not grow in the thankful heart”

Unknown

I am grateful for walks in the park with the sun shining on me. I am grateful for funny memes I see on social media that make me literally laugh out loud. I am grateful for Friday Pizza night. There is so much to be grateful for, both big and small. And I am also grateful for what didn’t happen. The car accident that almost happened, the job I didn’t get because there was a better door that was open. And then I am grateful for the protection from unseen dangers.

“If you have lived, take thankfully the past”

John Dryden

When we choose to focus on what we are grateful for, it lifts the hung down head and shoots a bolt of hope into the hurting heart. It allows us to walk though life with a grace that will cause others to look at us in wonder. How are you still smiling? The ability to stop yourself in the middle of a pity, complaining or negative party to bring the focus back to gratitude demonstrates a mastery of life and of self. It demonstrates that wisdom has sprouted in the heart and the spirit has been fortified. Life loves a grateful heart. And it will reward you for your gratitude with even more to be grateful for.

“What you send out in the world is what you get back”

There is another song by Walter Hawkins that comes to mind, “Be Grateful”. The lyrics say:

God has not promised me sunshine

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be

But a little rain mixed with God’s sunshine

A little pain, makes me appreciate the good times

Your gratitude may be mixed with tears, regret, guilt, or shame. Your gratitude may be on the lips of a “I don’t understand, but I’m still thankful, “I’m hurting but I’m still thankful”, “My life is falling apart, but I’m still thankful”. That is the grace of gratitude. It will carry you through. Because my dear, “every storm runs out of rain”.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, gratitude”

Denis Waitley

Leave a Reply