Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blessings in Disguise

TBM Topic #35: "How to Cultivate a (Truly) Grateful Heart"

Trista, Not A Minx
Liesl, Spiritual Workout
Amanda, Worthy of Agape

Driving to Cincinnati from Indiana on Thanksgiving, Will and I listened to NPR. The Thanksgiving special interview was John Mayer, and the big take-away was how it is hard to be patient. He talked about how one's career may seem lucrative, but no one really sees the valleys - only the peaks. Did you know John Mayer has been in Montana for the past year and a half not singing or speaking in public to recover from throat surgery?

Nor do we know about many people's struggles in life. Too often, we are drowning in our own sorrow. We are too poor, too lonely, too victimized, too ignored, too sad. We cope with this by tweeting about how lonely we are, comparing ourselves to others, wishing for another life and grumbling to anyone who will listen. Why isn't anyone listening?!

Perhaps the question we should be asking is, Are we listening?

When we are handed misfortune, is it really so bad? Or do we think it is worse because it is happening to us? What is God trying to tell us when life hands us a poor hand? That, perhaps, we still hold the trump card? Do we doubt in God's mercy? Do we trust in God's care? Do we thank him regularly, or are we enjoying our wallowing and self-pity?

Our own wretched ungratefulness is realized upon its temporary removal; when we realize that life can always be worse, and usually by our own fallibleness. Still, it is our ability to sin, our ability to be unhappy, which makes us human.

"Love is patient, love is kind" is not a cliche we should dismiss; it is a truth. We must be patient with ourselves: we are on a journey - life is not meant to be stagnant, or predictable, or a pattern. We must be kind to ourselves; we must love ourselves. We must not wish we were different. We must seek to answer the question: God made me this way - what gifts am I giving back to this world? How can I best glorify God in a way no one else can?

We are too unsatisfied with ourselves. This is not to say self-improvement should be disregarded, or that we should revert to our most base instincts, but rather that our critical natures are self-destructive and ungrateful in the sight of God, who made us in his own image.

And it is in loving ourselves - truly - and accepting ourselves the way God made us, and to not complain about all the temporal woes, but finding joy and strength in the challenge, that we become who we are, and we can be grateful for who we are.
"Whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms...God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy." --Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium
To be truly happy, we must love ourselves as God loves us. We must forgive ourselves as God forgives us. And we must be grateful, truly, knee-bending grateful, for the life God has given us. It will never be perfect, but it will always be full of possibility. It is not our things or accomplishments that we take with us, but our love, our joy, and our grateful heart for all God has given us.

1 comment:

  1. Julie, I'm blown away again by the relevance and timing of this post. The last two paragraphs were especially meaningful for me right now. Like you were inspired to write it just for me.

    Living the life of an addict for most of my life, and now only recently working the 12 steps, I find it hard to let go of several old ideas. I found your blog to be helpful. God bless you and thank you.