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Choosing Gratitude

Updated: May 18, 2020

This past month hasn’t been easy. We’ve dealt with death, sickness, back pain, and toddler tantrums in our family. I’ve grieved over the steady stream of tragic events in the news and the state of our divided country. I’ve been working through my own insecurity, frustration, and brokenness. But in the midst of it all, I have been surprised by a feeling of gratitude this week, and I realized today how important it is to capture that feeling.

The reality is that this life we live is filled with both trials and beauty. So often the trials threaten to bring us down. They can overwhelm us and stop us right in our tracks if we let them. They can make us cynical and bitter. I think that one of the best ways to fight against those feelings and to keep moving forward is to choose gratitude in the midst of the trials.

I believe that there is always a glimmer of light if we choose to see it. It might be really small, but it is there. Choosing to see that light and celebrate it does not mean that we ignore what is bad and painful and hard. It doesn’t mean that we stop standing up against what is wrong. But it does mean that we can hold opposing realities in tension. We can acknowledge that we live in a broken world, that things are not as we want them to be, and also that God is good and he gives us good gifts.

I’m choosing to stop and acknowledge those good gifts in my life. This is what I’m grateful for right now…

Last night after dinner, our kids were actually playing really well together, which gave my husband and me a chance to talk as we cleaned up the dishes. As we talked about our day and planned a date night for this weekend, we laughed… a lot. It felt so good to laugh together and even reminded me of some of the moments when we first started dating. It seems so simple, but I feel like that kind of laughter is harder to come by these days in the midst of young children and the stresses of work and life. I’m grateful for the laughter.

I’ve been praying for patience and self-control with my kids because I’ve been lacking in that area. And this week, I felt the Holy Spirit answering those prayers. I wasn’t a perfect mother. There was even one night where my husband had to usher me out of our son’s room because I was so frustrated and things were going downhill fast. But there were also a lot of moments where I responded with grace where I normally would have snapped at my kids or even yelled. I stayed calm in the midst of tantrums. And I enjoyed being silly with my kids. I liked the mom that I was to my kids this week. I’m grateful for God’s grace.

One of my desires in this season is to get to know more moms in my neighborhood. I sometimes feel a little insecure in this area due to language and cultural differences, but I continue to ask God for opportunities. Yesterday, as we were walking home from school, another mom that I had never met started talking with me. It was small talk at first but I could feel that there was something more that she wanted to say. I introduced myself and asked her name, and then she finally got around to it. She wanted to know if I would be willing to help her daughter with her homework from time to time. She struggles to help her daughter because she doesn’t speak English, and apparently someone had told her that I used to work in the after school program in our neighborhood. So she took a chance to reach out so that she could get the help her daughter needs. I don’t think she realizes that she is an answer to my prayers. I’m grateful for a new opportunity for relationship.

My husband and I have been renting an apartment since we got married. The last couple years we’ve been dreaming of buying a house someday (which is no small feat in California) and have felt pretty discouraged about the likelihood of that at times. But earlier this week, I was reminded of how much I love where we live. There was an evening when we walked outside to play with the kids and ran into our neighbors and a mutual friend who had stopped by. We stood on the sidewalk and talked as other neighbor friends walked up and joined in the conversation. Our kids ran and played together as we chatted. I love that we live so close to good friends. I love getting to greet neighbors that we’ve known for years as they walk down the street. I love that our kids are growing up surrounded by people who look and speak differently than they do. I love that we live right down the street from a carnicería where we buy delicious meat for tacos on the regular. I’m grateful for our home and our neighborhood.

This week, I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with several friends at the library, at the park, at a fall festival. I’ve texted with other friends and sent and received prayers and encouragement. We’ve talked about life and shared in our common struggles. Connecting with the people I love is one of my most favorite things, and it has fed my soul this week. These are the people who remind me that I am enough and that I am not alone. These are the people who know me and understand my heart. These are the people who learn and grow with me as we try to work out how God calls us to live. I am grateful for my community.

What are the things that you are grateful for right now? Maybe there are several things that come to mind right away. Maybe you are having a hard time thinking of even one. I encourage you to spend some time thinking about that today. Whatever kind of day you’ve had, whatever season you find yourself in, look for reasons to be grateful, no matter how small. That just might be enough to give you the hope to keep pushing through.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


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