Practicing Authentic Gratitude

Why we can be grateful for the good things while calling out the rest.

 

Today I’m thankful for yellow, crunchy beneath your feet leaves.

I’m thankful for the spur-of- the moment walk we decided to take this evening.

I’m thankful for an armful of sticks, leaves, buckeyes, and rocks, all given to me by a sweet 2-year-old who loves to explore around outside.

I’m thankful for a delicious dinner of orange chicken and also thankful for crockpots.

I’m thankful for kids’ teachers turned friends and interesting discussions over soda and tea.

I’m thankful for my anti-social 4-year-old blossoming into a good friend, and her new BFF and first-time playdates.

I’m thankful for friends and random gifts and chestnuts.

I’m thankful for very generous people who share their knowledge and the internet and #write31days.

I’m NOT thankful when my mini-me screams like a banshee over gum and bad attitudes and outside-in-the-cold-without-enough-layers and dishes and cluttery houses and kids struggling and 2 pee accidents of a potty-trained child and getting up early after going to bed too late.

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I’ve been learning about practicing authentic gratitude

We can express gratitude for the things we’re really actually thankful for, but we don’t have to convince ourselves to be thankful for the things that are ugly and hard and not-how-things-are-supposed-to-be.

Too often I think we try to guilt one another (or ourselves!) into being content with things we shouldn’t ever be content with. I’ve heard things like:

  • I’m grateful for my son throwing up in the middle of the night, because at least I have a son. Or because someday my kids will all be moved out and I will miss having kids at home (don’t believe me? google it).
  • I’m grateful for the time I lived in poverty because it taught me a lot about compassion for others.
  • I’m grateful that my husband is gone all the time because at least he has a good paying job that provides for us.
  • (this one is my favorite!) Look at those poor people in {insert country name}! They don’t have much but they’re so happy and grateful with little!

I say we can be authentically grateful for having children, while not being grateful for cleaning up puke at 3:00a. We can be authentically grateful for compassion being sewn in our hearts while still being disappointed that we had to experience that season of very difficult poverty. We can be authentically grateful that our husband has a great paying job that meets all of our needs and most of our wants, but we can be really sad and sometimes mad that our husband is missing out on so much of our lives and our kids’ lives.

And yes, some people around the world live in awful poverty and watch their children die of malnourishment or AIDS or easy-to-cure childhood illnesses and by the grace of God they are grateful for the good things in their lives, but I can guarantee you that they aren’t grateful for their kids dieing or going days without food or getting sick with malaria. They are grateful for other things, better things, things that are truly good.

We live in a broken world. Some things in our lives aren’t meant to be called good. Because they’re just not.

Just because “every good and perfect gift is from above” doesn’t meant that EVERY gift is from above.

It’s exhausting to live in a culture in which “gratitude” is the new buzz word for “put on a happy face.” YES, let’s write down 5 things we’re grateful for everyday in our fancy notebooks and try to find silver linings of huge nasty storm clouds. But let’s also call out the crappy, awful, “this-world-is-not-our-home” stuff too.

 

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