This week gratitude has been on my mind. Well, for the past several weeks. Gratitude to me means recognizing things or people in our lives and seeing the good in those things or people, or seeing how they have benefitted my life and recognizing that I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and then hopefully, if it’s people, letting them know I am grateful for them.
Sometimes people find it hard to see a reason to be grateful, sometimes it’s hard to see past the hard, the trial, the challenge in life and see that maybe it’s making us stronger, smarter, or more resilient. Sometimes the hard helps us to change courses, or see that maybe the path we are on isn’t going to take us where we want to go. Sometimes it’s recognizing that we are only going to get where we want to be through the hard, which for me is most often the path. But I am grateful for the hard, for the strengthening that comes from hard. I wouldn’t change any of the hard I’ve experienced in my life, because I wouldn’t be where I’m at without it. Always after the trial I am grateful, but the older I get and the more I have the opportunity to experience, I can see, even in the middle of hard that there are things to be grateful for.
This week I am grateful for good health. 2 weeks ago I got sick, mild flu like symptoms. It was over a weekend, and by Tuesday I was doing great, or at least I thought I was. By Thursday I was doing even better and realized Tuesday I wasn’t doing as great as I thought at first, and I was great before the next weekend. By Thursday my husband was getting sick. He wasn’t as lucky as I was. He is still sick, but has finally, 10 days later turned the corner to hopefully recover. I never really pay attention to my good health until it’s gone. How often do we not even realize how good we have it until something changes and we can finally see, 2020 hindsight is awesome. But we don’t need to look back to always be grateful. While I was sick I was grateful that my Church meetings are zoomed so I could still watch and benefit. I was grateful my husband let me sleep on the couch all day long. I was grateful my kids pitched in and helped out, and didn’t hound me with questions about what they could do, what they could eat, etc. I am grateful now for a strong immune system that helped me heal quickly. While my husband has been sick, I have been grateful for prayers, not just mine, but extended family willing to pray for his health and well being, and grateful for the comfort of the Spirit as I worried along the way.
One of the trials I wouldn’t trade for the world: We lived in my husbands shop the first 17 years of our marriage. The first 3 years we didn’t have water, the first 7 years we didn’t have power. We had all 4 of our children while still living there. Those were hard years. But through them I learned that there are a lot of things people take for granted that they feel like are necessities, that aren’t really, and there are ways to work around just about anything. The only detriment? I hate camping because I felt like we had been camping our whole married life. My kids are still irritated about that. But I learned how to make do, how to do things with very little, how to make money stretch, and with our money, what really was a necessity and what really wasn’t. I am so very grateful for those experiences and how they shaped me. We lived that way so that we could stay out of debt. We were able to build our home, very slowly, but with no debt associated. We still don’t make a lot of money, but the money we do make is ours, and not a debt collectors.
Over the years there have been so many people whom the Lord has placed in my path to help with not only the hard, but the happy, the sad, the learning, etc. to help me see, or navigate through my life. Some of those people have come and gone in what seems like an instant. Others have come into my life and stayed with me. I have had the opportunity to learn about kindness, compassion, small businesses, music, painting. So much of who I am has come from the random and lifelong people I have come in contact with. My best friends have come from opportunities to help with concerts, carnivals, and PTA and church events. I thought I was there to help others, but always I left lifted inside, or with new ideas, or new opportunities. I am so grateful for the many people who have touched my life, and the ripple effect those people have had over many years.
I guess what I have learned most, is it’s not the circumstances that we find ourselves in, but the way we look at what’s going on that really matters. We can choose to only see the hard, or we can choose to see the hard and recognize what it is doing for us. Muscles don’t get stronger by not being used. Likewise, we will never reach our full potential if we aren’t being challenged sometimes. Look at life as an opportunity. Recognize when things aren’t easy, but don’t dwell on it. Instead changing our focus to look for solutions, look for opportunities, and be grateful for the little (or big) things that happen on a daily basis.