Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Birth of Gratitude

This morning Wyatt and I went to the church we've been attending in San Luis Obispo, First Presbyterian. While my body was begging me to stay home and rest, my heart knew that it needed worship. The pastor spoke true words about thankfulness and gratitude while my eyes welled up with tears and I experienced the beauty of the Holy Spirit.

I've been finding it difficult to be grateful. What tends to happen in a sadly cyclical nature, I complain about something, feel guilty about complaining and then wind up sitting with that guilt just long enough to muster up a bit of gratitude, only to go right back to complaining. I don't tend to complain out loud as much as I do in my head and heart. Unfortunately silent complaints still wreak havoc and impair gratitude.

The pastor shared a quote, I believe from author Eugene Peterson, that went something like this, "Gratitude is born when we mediate on God's grace and mercy." Yes, how true. God's grace and mercy are the antidote to my complaint/guilt/hint of gratitude/complaint cycle. Why is it so challenging to meditate on his grace and mercy? And why is it, even though God is so big and his grace and mercy so pervasive in my life and the world around me, that I choose to distract myself with other things and dwell on what isn't as it should be rather than what is? That's what I've been pondering this afternoon.

I have lots of excuses for my distraction and keen ability to complain. It's the energy required these days to be Wyatt's mom. It's the disappointing changes at work. It's the ways in which my body is in pain each day. It's missing my husband while he kindly and unselfishly works on our new home day and night. There's always something, isn't there?

I don't think that God's grace and mercy are counterpoints to these things, rather it's an in/through/because of kind of thing. I deeply desire to know and experience God through life as it is because I believe that he's there, in all of it, waiting for me to draw near to him, to redeem all things for his purposes and to reflect himself in and through me.

So, what if God's grace gives me joy and strength through Wyatt's never-ending energy and zest for life? What if I feel God's mercy through the change in my health care coverage, trusting that he will provide for my every need? What if I trust that God's grace will be sufficient, as it's been each and every day for the past 16 years, to sustain me through the highs and lows of Behcet's? What if I see the grace of God in his provision of our new home where we'll raise Wyatt and enjoy community?

And gratitude is born. In the dwelling, the meditating, the mind that so quickly swerves from gratitude to criticism. I like the idea of gratitude being born, starting as something small but growing naturally as we feed and nurture it. And, let's hope gratitude is the only thing I'm giving birth to anytime in the near future.