Gratitude -- A Heart Check
I am profoundly grateful for my reverse osmosis water filter that we had installed in our kitchen a year ago. Almost every time I fill a bottle or a pot for pasta, I think of how incredible it is that this safe, necessary resource is right here at my fingertips. I picture the girls in Africa I've seen in documentaries who have to walk miles for water, and then, once there, face down elephants. And I used to complain about the inconvenience of filling my Britta pitcher!
And yet, I don't drink enough water. If you follow me on Instagram, you know one of my goals this year was to drink more water, not just La Croix and Coffee. I actually complain about having to drink water, because, like so many things that are good for me, I struggle to do it. When so much of the world doesn't have access to water, it's crazy that my heart is able to twist the privilege of nurturing myself into a chore.
I love the opportunity in November to do a heart-check about this kind of crap. It's gratitude month, and everybody's doing their lists, on-line and otherwise. I'm starting with a subsection of what I'm grateful for: things I complain about, get tired of, or have turned into duty rather than privilege, which God has alerted me to this week. Included in it is a little self-talking to that I really need.
Instead of complaining about negative political ads, reading through the voters guide and waiting in lines, I am grateful for the right to vote. Yesterday was the 100 anniversary of the white woman's right to vote; and many of our sister suffragettes discriminated against our black sisters, who didn't get true access to the polls until the 1960s. Now, Amanda, be grateful for this right, keep up with the news and use that voice God gave you to stand up for human rights and righteousness.
Instead of being critical of my body, I'm going to be grateful for how well it works. And friends, it doesn't work as well as it did five years ago. I keep hurting myself when I hit the gym, so I complain about not being able to do the exercise I like, and then don't exercise at all. But I'm so grateful that I'm a healthy 42 year old woman with as yet no degenerative disease and a sound mind. So Amanda, turn off Netflix and take a walk. Your arms -- which don't look like Michelle Obama's and likely never will -- and your legs -- which don't look like Jessica Alba's and definitely never will -- work just fine to walk you around your beautiful, safe neighborhood in which you are blessed to live. Get that heart pumping however you can.
Instead of grumbling about how much laundry there is to fold (or that, once folded, it doesn't all fit in my closet!), I'm thankful I never have to worry that my my family will never be cold, or unable to go to school or work because we don't have the right clothes. Girl, give some more stuff away. Don't keep it until the silverfish chew holes in it or it's too out of style to benefit anyone.
Instead of being discouraged about meal planning, I'm thankful that we have never gone hungry. I'm thankful that, though it can feel tedious and repetitive to cook and clean every day, I have the ability to purchase just about any food I can think of, so that feeding my family doesn't have to just be necessity, it can be a source of joy, tradition and creativity.
And finally, instead of forgetting to read my Bible or carve out time to study, or -- I'm going to be totally honest -- seeing it as a chore and a duty, I'm grateful that God chose to speak to me. And, that I have six different versions of his word in my house, at my fingertips. Christians all over the world are underground, hiding their Bibles if they even have one. I have access not only to God's word, but multiple translations and teachers to help me understand and internalize it.
I sometimes have a knee-jerk negative reaction to the idea of willfully being grateful. I think my heart wants to reserve the right to have it's negative emotions. I want to reserve the right to complain sometimes about day-to-day stuff that gets me down -- even though so many people are worse off than I am. So the final thing I'm grateful for today is that God gets this about me, and loves me. He enters into my world with empathy without comparing me to his other children, and wishing I would just get over it already. Jesus said, "Cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you." All means all. But also, in loving me, he draws me into gratitude because it's good for my heart. I'm grateful that good is what God wants for me.