November, the month of Gratitude. I see all of your Facebook posts popping up with your gratitude and I read them and I smile. I’m drawn to look every day for things to be grateful for, every day in November and it makes me happy. Why?
As a little girl, I was a free thinker, someone confident and satisfied with my world around me. I think I was pretty happy most of the time though I have been told that I was pretty stubborn too. It wasn’t until I was older, around ten, and my family made a significant move many states away that I became more cynical, and for lack of a better word, sad. It was hard being the new girl in a small town that thought me strange.
I spent a lot of years feeling pretty sorry for myself. Suddenly this confident, bubbly girl, was sad and shy and feeling pretty badly about herself. If only people could be kinder, if only I could be prettier, if I could just speak without a Midwest accent, if maybe I could be more clever, then maybe I could be happier.
Flash forward thirty years. I’m still me, only more chubby (I blame it on the six kids, or maybe the gluten, all the beautiful wonderful gluten,) I still stumble on my words and once in a while that accent pops back out to the teasing of my kids, my skin still breaks out and sometimes people are still mean. But I am happy, far from shy and rarely feel bad about myself, (for very long anyways,) and I wonder what has changed.
I have worked on those things in life that I have control over and tried to let the other things go. I’ve made conscious effort to look at myself in the mirror every day and see me how God sees me. I’ve tried to remember who I am and how much I am loved. And I’ve made out right choices to be happy, trying to teach my children the same, that happiness is a choice. And it is, but I have found over the years that the world can be mean, and scary, and downright sad. And things are probably going to continue to keep going that way or worse. I can’t let the world decide for me whether or not I’m going to be happy, but I can decide for me and the best way that I know how to do this is by finding gratitude.
Instead of being bored because it was that Wednesday again yesterday when I take Stephanie to the orthodontist and my whole day goes to driving and ortho and my house stays a mess from the night before, dishes undone, laundry unwashed, I can see the blessing of hours of alone time that I get to spend with my sweet quiet daughter whose voice is sometimes drowned out by her more boisterous sisters and noisy brother. Those are moments and shared talks that maybe would never have come about any other way.
I can see hard things as opportunities to grow and moments of service as time to reflect my love for God instead of add to the list of must dos. I can watch with amazement as a spider spins a web and dust swirls in whatever pattern I last washed it off in on the front porch tables instead of grumping at the spider web too high to reach and the table once again needing washing even though I just did it two days ago.
I can find a million things to be grateful for if I make an effort to find them. It’s amazing how many things are beautiful, and kind, and happy when I am looking for them. It’s amazing how much joy can be found when I’m looking for it.
So keep those Facebook posts coming of your gratitude. Keep me looking each day for things to smile and laugh and love about and help make this crazy sad world a happier place and when December comes, and January, (that month that just seems to lag on forever in the cold and lack of any happy holidays,) comes keep looking for those gratitude moments too, and share them. Share them with everyone you see and you know what, things will change. Maybe not the whole world, but people around you, and me, your Facebook buddy, I will change by your example too and before you know it that sad little person inside that keeps trying to pop its head out when things get sad or mean or lonely, that little whiney person that lives in all of us will learn to smile too.