Gratitude

If you want to have a lasting impact on the world, define yourself with gratitude. Be thankful over the laundry…Be full of gratitude, not only for the cute photo opportunities that will come your way as a mother, but over the accidents and snotty noses and dirty floors. Give thanks for the sticky juice rings on the counter. Give thanks for the milk spill,  for the stomach virus, for the pants that are too tight after that last baby.

Gratitude …transforms. It is such a force that it cannot coexist with selfishness, with discouragement, with discontent…When you are thankful for the things that are right in front of you, getting in your way and messing up your hair, you are at peace with God’s will for your life…Gratitude enables us to do our daily work as unto the Lord. It makes the little things that we do every day an offering to God.

~Rachel Jankovic in “Fit to Burst” p. 118-119~

As I read this, my initial reaction is, “Thankful for snotty noses and dirty floors and spills? Thankful for the ‘mess’ of life? Thankful for overdue babies and unrealized expectations? How can I make myself truly feel THANKFUL for these things?” I don’t want to be a mother who is only thankful for the “cute photo opportunities” that present themselves. However, it sometimes seems impossible to haul myself out of my ingratitude or change my mood to one which would be more in line with the life of a Christian. How do I change how I feel when I am ungrateful and dissatisfied?

I think the key is found when Rachel says, “When you are thankful for the things that are right in front of you, getting in your way and messing up your hair, you are at peace with God’s will for your life…”

At peace with God’s will for my life.

That’s how I can be thankful for things that seem so unpleasant or undesirable to me: I can stop complaining long enough to realize that the “problems” I face are part of His will for me…that nothing can pass to me that does not first come through His Sovereign hand.

For “all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:16-17)

The One who holds all things together holds my life in His hands. And when I see Him rightly…when I take my eyes off of me and what I want long enough to contemplate what He may want, and the fact that His ways are much higher than mine, I feel peace washing over me…gratitude that I’m not the one in control of everything…and I find myself humbled by the realization that I don’t see the whole picture, but He does.

So today I’m thankful for a baby who’s 3 days past her due date, and weeks past when I wanted her to arrive.

I’m thankful for the lessons I’m learning about patience and trusting God’s timing.

I’m thankful for the uncomfortable, sleepless nights (that I was initially very grumpy about), realizing how kind the Lord is to use this to prepare me for the first weeks and months of mommyhood.

I’m thankful for the walks I now take every day in an effort to bring on labor (that at first seemed like such a drag and the last thing I wanted to do) – walks that provide an awesome opportunity to commune with my God in prayer.

I’m thankful for the prepare-in-advance, slow-cooker meals I’ve been able to stack in the freezer for my family…for some additional, unexpected alone time with my husband before our lives change quite dramatically……for the extra time I’ve had to prepare my heart for the journey of motherhood.

And, at the end of the day, I know that I will not always see glimpses of God’s greater purpose in ‘messing up my hair’ …that I won’t always understand why He doesn’t give me things according to MY plan. Yet, I will seek to obey His Word by “giv[ing] thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for [me]” (1 Thess. 5:18), and I know that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Sam. 15:22)