The kids and I attended a church service this evening in which the primary message was, appropriately, "gratitude". Of course the Thanksgiving weekend, leading right into the upcoming whirlwind holiday season, places this worthy topic in the front-and-center of people's minds. We've all been thinking about our blessings and making a conscious effort to fully appreciate them. But the pastor's point actually centered around cultivating a spirit of thankfulness at all times...completely independent of what you have...or lack...in your life, and regardless of what the world may throw your way in terms of obstacles, heartache, setbacks, or the like. It was powerful stuff, and it got me thinking of how to apply this principle to everyday circumstances...maybe to "reframe" some of the petty annoyances that crop up in the course of the Daily Grind.
Just in the past week, for example, I experienced...oh, let's call it what it was: a Mommy Meltdown...when faced with One. More. Stinkin'. Load. Of. Laundry. I grumped and groused about all the stupid socks and the blasted towels and the...darn...sweatshirts. But wait a minute...how grateful am I that my kids have clothes to wear? (Not rhetorical, actually...the answer is: too much to even express...) Okay, I can see how this may work. Let's try another one...hmm...ooohhh, I know! I looooaaathe grocery shopping. First the menu-planning and list-making...then the slalom course through crowded aisles, dodging other carts and bargain-hunters...and finally the label-reading, price-scanning, and (gulp) paying for a week's supply of rations for a family of four. However, this is an easy one to turn around; the fact that we have enough money to buy food--so that our kids never have to go to bed hungry--and also to donate meals and supplies to local organizations that serve those less fortunate...that's absolutely priceless to me.
I'm on a roll, now, what other irritating stuff can I look at differently? Here's a common complaint: traffic around here SUCKS. Yet when I happen to be navigating it while commuting to my job-- which I enjoy and know I'm lucky to have--it suddenly seems like a whole lot less of a hardship. (Mostly...I'm not saying there won't be any yelling in my car...but I am trying, here...) Next, something I gripe about a LOT: It's cold outside. Thank goodness, then, that I have a roof over my head, a working furnace that produces enough heat to warm me and my family...and hot tea. Alright, we're doing pretty well, so let's try a challenging one: the boys have tracked in enough mud and leaves and...other...gritty junk (again) to make a whole pen full of pigs comfortable and happy. Right...of course it goes without saying that I'm thankful for my sons. Um, and that they have...shoes...and...yeah, I just can't find it in myself to get all giddy and appreciative about dirt, sorry.
So anyway, I realize the sermon was meant to offer comfort and wisdom to people during some of the more catastrophic events that can occur in one's life journey. But I think that everyone (me me ME) can use the advice to nurture a "universal attitude of gratitude". And like all valuable lessons, practice is required to truly master the technique. I don't see any reason not to start small, so that eventually it might blossom into a bonafide, automatic glass-half-full perspective. Wouldn't that be nice? Maybe then I'll even be able to see the beauty in..."household grime"...