Choosing Gratefulness

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If you are reading this and don’t believe there is a God who cares, who knows you personally and wants you to know Him, who has put you on earth for a time but one day will take you to live with Him, content, satisfied, having the empty spot in your life filled…your journey will look very different from my own! Without Him, my life would have completely crumbled; had it not been for the hope I had of one day being with Him, fear would have followed my every move!

I would like to make one suggestion to you who are reading this: perhaps He is trying to get hold of your life through the sickness. Could it be that He wants you to run to Him, to know Him and have purpose in life? My story is laced with experiences with of His presence. I’m not crazy. I really did and I really have heard Him speaking to me. I do believe He is the one thing that can fill the emptiness so many of us feel!

Gratefulness. Maintaining focus. Summer 2011 and onward. A book called ‘One Thousand Gifts,’ by Canadian author Ann Voskamp, discovered while visiting my sister a month before I broke down. I didn’t read much, only a chapter or two. The idea that stayed with me was this: I have much to be grateful for, but rarely take time to enjoy and appreciate it! Often I am left behind, missing out on the beauty of life, the fullness to be experienced, the ways God is trying to communicate with my soul through the perspective I carry. I decided I wanted change.

I started that night. A small notebook, pen and thoughts, I wrote down 10 things that I was grateful for. Somehow it seemed like the “right thing” for the time being. I dedicated my summer to that kind of thinking. Today, that notebook is my treasure! Its been a hallmark of God’s care over me.

All summer, (almost) every day, I recorded 10 things I saw, experienced and appreciated. I can remember 2 specific times where I couldn’t write. Brain dead, I lay in bed almost all day. No breeze, no sunlight, no birds singing, not even rising to leave my home, I honestly felt from the core of my being I had nothing to be grateful for. I actually couldn’t  write anything in that book. I was a living soul trapped in a dead body that wouldn’t respond.

But there were days where I could write, observe and choose to appreciate life around me. Nature began stirring my soul. She touched me at the core: stars at night, summer breeze sweeping the hay fields, gentle murmur of Douglas Fir at dusk, creek trickling past my shack. Fresh farm eggs to eat, my little brother’s mischievous grin, quietness as family all left for church. Sister helping me lift a heavy object, the rippling muscle under the horse’s soft, sleek hair, their gentle, alert eyes crowned by long lashes. Sunlight on my skin, veins in a tender green leaf, music of nature and nothing else. A friend’s visit, prayers of my church family, attempts to show concern however counter-active they might have been. A brother and his wife, going through similar situation, only worse. I was not completely alone.

This exercise enable me to keep my sanity! If I had not held to this perspective, had not viewed life with appreciation and quiet acceptance, that year would have been so incredibly difficult. I’m so glad God knew what I needed, that I began adjusting my thinking before sickness hit in full strength.

My perspective. Taking time to enjoy life in spite of its brokenness. Hardships were present but I had a choice: allow difficulties to suffocate or take hold of the soul-oxygen of life. I chose gratefulness and peace. Oh, it wasn’t the invigorating, pulsing delight of life, but more the quieting of my soul, a calmness that would enshroud my worries and allow me to rest. 

Since walking through sickness, I’ve found that I drink deeper of life. Suddenly I’m capable of feeling and soaking in beauty as never before. I once knew a lack of and now its so very sweet. There’s still grief-oh my yes! But I have a choice as to where I place my focus. I’m learning to choose gratefulness.

For me, was a conscious choice regardless of how I ‘felt’. And believe me, I alternatively felt so much and so little, I can hardly believe such variance was possible in the human body! 

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So is a thankful soul.