A couple weeks back, I heard one of those brilliant little sayings that will forever stick with me: "What if you woke up this morning with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?" It was so profound for me. I am generally very on top of thanking my Heavenly Father for the things I am grateful for, but it still really struck me that there is so much that I am truly thankful for which I don't express thanks. I always thank Him for my family and friends, but I'm not so good about being thankful for each person I am grateful for. I'm not good about expressing my wonder that my three boys are amazing, each completely different but equally wonderful. Each of them demonstrates their God-given personality every minute of every day and I often am so busy and caught up in life that I forget to breathe in the astonishing work of God's Hand in my amazing little people.
In my life, I try very hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude. I know that I am prone to slipping into the monotony of life. Perspective, for me, is the great equalizer. Someone can have all of the privileges that life has to offer, but without God, or without a healthy perspective, I know they must be prone to depression and self- pity. I don't know how anyone can get through life's struggles without being thankful and expressing thanks for all they have. Our success in life is not determined by how much we have or what we do, perhaps, but what if we could have the perspective that our success is much more determined by what we do with what we have. Life, for me, has thrown more curve balls and I feel sometimes like I've taken more than my fair share of hits. Each of these "hits", however, have had their toll in shaping the person I've become. Some of these "hits" have created circumstances that I continue to struggle with and work through, and some have molded a stronger and more resilient me.
I know that I will never be thankful that my sister died at age 33. It is fresh in my mind still, but I know that it is a life-altering event for which I won't be able to give thanks. I am, however, already giving thanks for the changes in me that were brought about as a direct result of her passing.
At this point in my life, I am thankful for my children. I've always been thankful for them, but when they were infants, high needs infants with extreme medical needs causing sleep deprivation to a degree I didn't know was humanly possible...there was not an attitude of gratitude within my heart. Today, I am so very thankful for them, not in spite of their needs, but because those very needs have instilled strength, determination, intuitiveness, creativity and an amazing capacity to give and receive love within their very beings. I find it astonishing that God has given each of them exactly what they need to make it through their lives. I see this at such a young age and am in awe of His Provision. My sensitive and loving boy is the most healthy, rarely having any physical issues. His twin, the most medically involved, is feisty, ornery (in the most lovable way), a fighter and very empathetic. He has the fight within him to get angry at the situation but the empathy to suspend his reality for long enough to cuddle with Mama when things are so hard - he knows that when he is suffering, I am suffering. And I, in turn, have learned that God, my Father, is so sad that I am struggling. He is holding me when I am holding my baby. And my youngest... well... we do love him. He is the youngest child and plays the role to the hilt. He has some physical challenges, just enough to keep things interesting, but not so much that he has to fight and get out of his comfort zone too much. It astounds me that their personalities are exactly what they need and I am grateful for a God who has it all in His hands and knew, far ahead of any person, what they would need to walk their journeys.
And then, at the end of the evening, when all has calmed... I'm sipping a cup of mint tea, looking forward to restorative rest, little boy people sleeping after a long, busy day, hubby on his computer, watching a baseball game (or football? I'm never really entirely sure what any of it is...), I realize... God has continually blessed me with exactly what I need to get through. All of the "hits", all of the "unfairness", all of the calamity... those things are perceived. I am human and occasionally get lost in the midst of it all, but my perspective is one of thankfulness and appreciation. I don't view my life as a study of struggle. My perspective is such that these things happen to everyone. Life is not easy. We live in a fallen world, things are going to be tough sometimes. I'm grateful for a perspective that allows me to live joyfully and feel peace in the midst of the storm. I'm grateful that I can feel joy and calm when things are difficult. Sometimes life is hard, but an attitude of gratitude makes the difference between perpetual struggle and a joyful life lived despite struggles.