Gratitude – it’s one of those buzzwords you hear so often lately along with mindfulness and optimism and self-care and happy. It’s supposed to make your life better and more meaningful. But do we really “get” GRATITUDE? It seems to me that people are more likely to gripe about having to wait in line or the nasty service they received at the mall or be quick to honk their horn at someone a little too slow in front of them. To me people seem angrier and bitter rather than grateful. You listen to the news and it is full of stories of people hurting others out of hatred, and people out to get whatever they can get because they are not satisfied with what they have. We are an entitled society. So many of us believe we deserve the nice things, a happy life, smooth sailing all the time and when life doesn’t work out that way we gripe and complain bitterly and push against everyone and everything around us.
My Mom is sitting in a nursing home at the age of 91. She is suffering every day with struggling to breath, pain, severe discomfort, and discouragement at not being able to do the things she once was able to do. Pretty well all her independence has been taken away from her. She relies of someone to get her dressed and undressed, to take her to the bathroom, she wears adult diapers, she can’t see well or hear the phone when I try to call. This woman has every reason in the world to gripe till the cows come home. She should be angry, bitter, resentful and downright miserable. Yes, sometimes she has moments when she feels these things. BUT… my Mom is the most grateful person I have ever known in my life and I am so grateful to have a Mom like that.
Mom lived with me for 5 years before I could not look after her any more and she had to go to the nursing home. I would often sit in her sitting room with her and we would just chat about anything on our minds. Inevitably, the conversation always came around to talking about our lives and how much we had to be thankful for. We would tell our life stories over and over again and marvel at how God worked this out or that out. Mom grew up on a very poor family and I am sure it was not easy but as she exclaimed over and over again with joy on her face she would tell of the wonderful parents she had. She would say, ” we didn’t have much but we had love!” She would reminisce about the wonderful man my Dad was and what a good husband he was. She would tell me that there were times as she put it, that she would have liked to “murderate that man” but that was a marriage where there were good and bad times and she chooses to remember the good times and be grateful for the man who helped raise two good children and was faithful to her to the end. Over the years I have heard so many stories from her and have recounted so many stories of my own, many of them intertwining in our lives together of mini miracles. God just reached down and blessed us with jobs when we needed them, wisdom when we didn’t know what to do, a new home when neither my mom or dad were working at the time, miracle after miracle, blessing after blessing and stories of gratitude to fill a lifetime.
These talks Mom and I had were frequent, I’d say nearly every day. And they continue even in the nursing home. I visit her 5 out of 7 days of the week. Every single day mom recounts some story she is grateful for. It just flows out of my Mom. It is an integral part of who she is. She is just a grateful person. And that gratefulness spills out into my life. And I am so blessed to have a Mom who reminds me when I feel discouraged all the stories in MY life that I have to be grateful for.
Gratefulness doesn’t usually stand directly in front of you and wave it’s arms and say, ” Here I am. Be grateful for this!!” Most of the time you have to go searching for gratefulness. It’s subtle, it’s quiet and it is not in your face. But it is a treasure that if you make it a point of going searching for it you will find it every where. It is all over the place, hiding in plain sight. It is a treasure that will, as so many proponents of gratitude today say, will change your life and your ability to cope and enjoy the life you have no matter whether you are rich or are the poorest of the poor. Gratitude is like a diamond in the rough, hidden unless we look for it and mine it to it’s great glory. And the funny thing about gratitude is that there is always something to be thankful for even when we think there is absolutely nothing. Gratitude is always present – we just have to look.
The bible has a lot to say about gratefulness and long before it was the buzzword it is today. You may not believe it but the bible is a very wise book with hidden nuggets of truth that people of today think they are discovering them for the first time but there were in the bible all these thousands of years. There are hundreds of verses in the bible of the people giving thanks to God. “Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good” says the word. Yes, Mom and I are believers and we know the power of being grateful in the enriching of our lives. Because most of our blessings have come from God. Those of you who don’t believe can still be thankful as you look around you but I encourage you to think about what role a good God may have in your blessings.
I am leaving shortly to go see Mom at the nursing home. We will tallk and reminisce and I KNOW the conversation will turn to something Mom or I am thankful for. It is a legacy Mom is leaving me that I will treasure each and every day. She is the most grateful person I have ever known in my life and I am grateful to have her as my Mom. I encourage you to leave a legacy for your children or husband or grandchildren, friends or coworkers as being known for a person with a grateful heart. We live in a dark world. Gratefulness sheds powerful light into your own life and the lives of everyone around you.
A while back I was struggling as to how to add more gratefulness to my life. If you knew me you would know I LOVE my tea and drink tea literally all day long. So…. I got a jar, any old jar will do and some small slips of paper and a pencil. I put these right next to the kettle in the kitchen. Every time I put the kettle on for a cup of tea I wrote out something I was grateful for. It could be something profound or something as simple as remembering to charge your phone. I have hundreds of these little slips of paper and often when I am feeling very down as I often do with the major stresses I am under when you are a caregiver to a person who is continuing to fail and you will probably lose soon, and I read them over and my heart is lifted up and I can face a few more hours or days of walking in the light instead of the darkness of life.
And today I am grateful to all you who have chosen to read this blog. I don’t know you personally but I thank you for taking the time to read the musings of a person who struggles through life just like you and can write and hopefully say something meaningful to the world out there in cyber space. Thank you.