I was so honored recently to be apart of an amazing series called “Attitude of Gratitude” from Kristin at Simply Klassic Home. With 12 different bloggers involved, this was a wonderful way to lead up to Thanksgiving and be reminded of all we have to be thankful for. I would encourage you to head over there and read them all as I know they will bless you as much as they blessed me! I’m going to share with you today my own contribution to this series and I hope that it will be an encouragement to you going into this week and the busy Holiday season ahead.
Since the beginning of the school year I have watched her drop off and pick up her precious girl with a huge smile on her face. This seemingly ordinary occurrence has become an extraordinary event.
How do we maintain an attitude of gratitude when the world around us is falling apart?
James 1:2-4 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers/sisters, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”
Recently, I found myself sitting at a table with other parents answering this question. “What is our greatest goal for our children?”
There were many different answers being tossed around but the predominant feeling was that as parents we will have done our job properly if our children grow up to be “happy”.
Now, sometimes I like to ruffle feathers a bit in these kinds of situations. Call me a rebel!
I listened and nodded my head and waited until it was my turn to answer the question. Then I said, “Well, my children’s happiness isn’t actually my main goal as a parent.”
They all looked at me as if I had just said that I let my children run through traffic! I decided I should explain myself a bit before they turned me in.
If my goal for my children, or for myself, is happiness, than I am going to be in a continual state of pursuing the things that I think will make them, or me, happy.
“So”, they asked, “what is your goal for your children?” I answered, “For them to be filled with joy, no matter what.”
Happiness and joy are so easily confused, aren’t they? You see, happiness is a fleeting emotion.
One which is defined by our circumstances.
“It’s not your circumstances that shape you. They are outside you and beyond you; they can’t really touch you. It’s how you react to your circumstances that shapes you. That’s between your ears, and that affects the ‘real you’.” Anne Ortlund in“Disciplines of the Heart”
It’s so easy to feel “joyful”when everything is going right. We experience success in our jobs, relationships, finances and suddenly the world seems brighter! But, what happens when things aren’t going our way?
When a business crumbles. When a relationship is fractured. When we suffer the loss of a loved one. When we are given a devastating diagnosis.
Is it possible to still feel joy in the midst of the pain?
Not only do I think the answer to that question is a resounding YES, I also believe that we can even be grateful for the pain.
I’ve always said that the bad news about pain is that after you experience it you will never be the same again.
But, the good news about pain is that once you’ve experienced it, you will never be the same again!
You will forever be a different version of yourself. It’s up to you to decide which version that will be.
Will you allow the pain to deepen your relationship with God and with others? Challenge you? Refine you?
Years ago, I found myself at a crossroads in my own life. Had I known then what I know now, it would have been very easy to be grateful for this difficult time. Because things worked out far more wonderfully than I could have imagined when I was in the depths of despair. (I have two precious kiddos to prove it!)
That isn’t how it works though, is it? Somehow, even in the midst of the pain, I discovered that I was grateful for what I was experiencing.
Grateful that it opened up my eyes to things I needed to work on.
Areas of my heart that God revealed to be hindrances to moving forward. It added layers to my marriage that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
And it taught me empathy.
The ability to have an attitude of gratitude and to know what having joy really means.
For that, I am thankful!
Are you facing trials now that are making it a challenge to feel joy?
How can we be praying for you?
We hope you know how much it means to us to share this journey called life with you all and that we are always here for you if you need 2 pairs of listening ears!
Thank you so much for joining us for this Simply Sunday at the Fence,