Lately, I’ve been thinking about my lack of gratitude. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for my pretty great life. I have a very supportive husband who loves me all the days and likes me more than 50% of the days (in case you didn’t know, it’s not in a married couple’s contract to LIKE each other all the days…just love; because I can love you from my core and just not really like ya today, ya feel me?). My children are kind of awesome, but not in a “ohmygoshbothmykidsgetstraightA’sandstartoneveryteamtheyplayforandnevergivemeanylip” kind of way. Because they don’t (both get straight A’s), they absolutely do not (start on every team they play for) and they give me way more lip these days than they have.( I’m still trying to figure out where their sassy-ass mouths come from. I blame Mr. Armed with a Latte. All in favor?) I have a great job that provides health benefits for my children and I (because Mr. AwaL’s job doesn’t cover us now that he’s retired…LAME), time with other adults (for the most part, although my job is riddled with kids that make me just want to mother them). I have a few tried and true friends. I don’t want any more than a few…I can’t really be that good of a friend to more than a few. And I have all the things that one would think one needs to be happy or (dare I say) content.
But it turns out that I lack some sincere, soul-searching, gut-wrenching gratitude. Recently, I was either listening to one of my favorite podcasts or reading the blog affiliated with that podcast and heard something about a gratitude journal. It made me think a little and I came to a conclusion. Thankfulness and gratitude, to me, are like happiness and joy. They are similar, but they are not the same. You may agree, you may not, but just hear me out. Look at my lists and see if you can see what I’m saying.
Things I’ve Been Thankful For:
- a new car
- a new house
- the day just “going your way”
- being in the right place at the right time
- kids bringing home straight A’s
- wearing a size smaller than you did last week
- husband buying you something…anything…just a present in general
- a good church service
Now, those things all create happiness and bring on some pretty great feelings of thankfulness. And they should! They are all really great things. But here’s the challenge I’m laying out to myself: what if I change the lens on my “thankfulness” camera to a “gratitude” one. Here’s what that looks like for me.
- reliable transportation to a job that provides for my family, on whatever scale that may be
- a place where my family can sleep and be sheltered, that we can gather for celebrations and feel safe in times of grief; a spot where my sons can know they are HOME
- knowing that it wasn’t just chance that I met that person at the supermarket who knew someone who knew someone who did the work we needed done on that one project that made our home safer
- brilliantly independent kids who either a) may get straight A’s and work really hard for them or b) do the best they can with the gifts God has given them and may not bring home much more than C’s, but for whom I am so grateful because I know they each have their own talents and strengths and accomplishments and I am so proud of them both…even when I think, “Dammit…an A in that class would have been really nice”
- food that nourishes my body, people who push me to run and strength train
evenespecially when I don’t want to, who believe that I am ABLE even when I tell them I am not, and the mindset to know that I cannot mentally or physically afford to let my identity get caught up in what size pants I wear, especially today when that number is bigger than it was 2 weeks ago and I’ve been working my ass off to be healthier
- a husband who knows me, who knows that sometimes I just need frozen yogurt or Irish coffee (remember that whole “size bigger” thing? It’s all becoming clearer right now) or popcorn made with that “ancient Korean spice”
- a spiritual home, a place where you can go as you are and not fear being judged because you don’t fit a mold, where you can know the One who created you because of the people who serve there
Do you see it? Do you see where I think the difference lies? Thankfulness is good. It is good and it is necessary. We SHOULD be thankful for things and for people and for circumstances. But thankfulness, to me, is just that: circumstantial. Gratitude is habitual. It is from my core. It is thankfulness amplified. It’s being thankful even when the circumstances aren’t what I asked for and truly knowing that there is a purpose for them.
And so, today I begin the hunt for a gratitude journal because people like me, we write. And for that gift, the ability to put onto paper what I feel in my heart, I have both thankfulness and gratitude. How do you show your gratitude? Do you have a favorite journal or an app? Help a sister out here and share. I want to hear!
I have immense gratitude that there are people that actually read what I write, that they interact with me and encourage me to keep writing, even offering to pay for me to take creative writing classes to make it a career. I am humbled and so full of love and thanks.