The Painful Implications of Gratefulness

I have no recipe today for you... but I do have a few thoughts. I have been learning a lot recently, and the thoughts bouncing around in my head demanded an outlet. Lucky you, you get to hear them as my outlet.

My relationship with God is a long story of struggle.
Sometimes I think that Jacob got off easy with just one night of fighting with God... I sometimes feel like I never stop fighting with God.
I am an independent person.
No-one tells me what I should do, how I should feel, who I should be.
I need my life to make sense, to be under control.
I need to be in control.
And God does not fit nicely into that need.

And so we fight.
I struggle.
I give in a little.
I take it back.

And then I blame God because there is no joy in my life.
Why no joy? I yell at Him.
You are supposed to give me joy.
 I have none. 
You are failing.

How arrogant I am.

I have been reading a book recently called One Thousand Gifts. It has continued me on a path that I have been on for some time, that of gratefulness. Oddly, it would seem that gratefulness is the key to a lot of things. A lot more than I thought at first.
The author of this book challenges me to begin giving thanks for everything, to begin acknowledging the gifts of God every day, in every situation. To literally practice being grateful for everything.

When I began this practice, only a week ago, I began it for me.
I wanted, I needed joy in my life.
My controlling tendencies drive me to stress and depression far too often, and I needed to get out of the cycle once again.
This seemed like a good way.

It seemed like a tame, easy way to access joy for my life.  
Thank you for the sunshine. 
Thank you for warm bread. 
Stop, be thankful, feel joyful, move on.

Being grateful seemed like such a simple, easy thing to do. It is fun, stopping to acknowledge and thank God for the warmth of the sunshine stretching golden through my kitchen window.

And yet, I found, that gratefulness, when put into practice for a while, even a week, begins to pull and pick at surprising places. The act of seeing each thing as a gift from God for right now to be thankful for has far-reaching consequences.

If this thing before me is an extravagant gift from God for this moment, then... I have no inherent right to it. Nothing I did means that I deserve this thing. Nothing I can do will ensure that I will never lose it.

To give thanks for a thing is to face the fact that I did not earn it, and it may go away. It may be gone tomorrow. And that, when it is gone, I have no right to throw a fit, to be angry,  because it was not mine to begin with. 
If I give thanks for this gift from God, I am acknowledging that it is God's. Not mine.
I have no rights. 

For a control freak like me, and perhaps like every human on the planet, it is painful for me to face that idea over and over every day.
It is more painful than I expected to acknowledge each thing for what it is: a fleeting, temporary, extravagant gift that God is allowing me to enjoy today. 
And yet... it is freeing. Painful, yes. But freeing, too.
For, if it is not mine, if I have no right to it, then I do not have to grasp it, to hold on to it, to attempt to control it.
My emotions can go toward enjoying it and being thankful for it, rather than toward worrying about losing it, and trying to hold on to it.

And my demands and requests of God, my worries and stresses begin to be turned on their heads.

Please give me security. 
Thank you for a roof over my head today. 

Keep my husband safe. 
Thank you for the privilege of living life with my husband today. 

Make my baby whole and perfect. 
Thank you for making my baby exactly the way You need him to be. Thank you for choosing me to be his mother. 

Why would you take away this house, make us find another? 
Thank you for Your perfect plan.  

Give me joy.
Thank you for today. 

How simple.
How hard.
I have no claim on tomorrow.
Thank you for today.


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