November 26, 2014

On being so darned Thankful.

I realize that I use *almost* swear words quite a bit here. Perhaps that's because I have a mouth of a sailor in real life. Eeeek. I can't hit the boxing bag whenever I'm mad (although I do sometimes….) so I drop an eff-bomb here and there to get out the regression. I know I know, eff-bombs are not kosher around toddlers and I'm TRYING MY DARNDEST to overcome this stupid habit. Michael never swears and *hates* it when I do. But the past couple nights I've heard even him let out a couple choice words and now I know why he hates it so much - swear words, when said, feel awesome good. But swear words, when HEARD, suck. They sound so horrible and I cringed every time one of those things came out of my husband's mouth. Anyway, it was kind of the motivation I needed to kick this bad habit o' mine. Just cut me some slack when Levi chooses to roll round in his own diaper full of poop.

Anyway, this post is actually on something other than swearing so I should just get to it……


Unless you're under a rock (or are Canadian) you know Thanksgiving is this week - a time to stop and be thankful and count your blessings and blah blah blah. When reserved for one day, one week, a year, this whole thankfulness stuff (see I used stuff instead of shiz. I'm turing a corner!!) can get annoying. That is, unless we choose thankfulness every single day of our (ever short) lives.

I used to never really be a thankful person. I actually didn't think about gratitude all that much - not really something on my radar. I had all the jealousies that every normal young woman has - especially as my friends started to get married and I had no boy who even asked me out on a date (seriously - never got asked to a high school dance people.) I was envious of their place in life - not just in regards to relationships but to everything else that a girl can be jealous of. But then I heard a phrase from someone (can't remember who, shout out if it's you) that totally changed my perspective. They said:

"Just because God chooses to bless someone else doesn't mean he won't bless you."

Yes, it's still kind of a "what about me?" phrase, but it really got me thinking. It snapped me out of my jealous tendencies because I realized that I should be REJOICING for the good fortune and blessings and plain luck of other people. That God doesn't have some sort of blessings bucket and when it runs out it runs out - no He wants to shower His people with all they need in life (and mooooore).

This whole new way of thinking set me on a course to embrace one of the secrets (I argue THE secret) to happiness:


That words deserves it's own line all caps and bold and shiz. (Dang it, I did it again.) When we live lives of contentment and joy - no matter the awesome or downright horrible situations we are going through - thankfulness breeds HAPPINESS. And I will argue that we all just want to be happy.

I've been through a lot in my life. I won't go in depth and bring y'all down before Thxgiving but in reflecting on some of the things I've been through I came up with my own not-so-little list: rejection, anorexia, an addictive personality I have to reign in over and over (but still gets the best of me at times), a decade of undiagnosed celiac disease and other major health issues still going on, infertility, financial distress, postpartum depression and, at times, thoughts of suicide. Plus many many other trials and crossed too numerous to list. Heavy stuff I know...but I bring it up for a couple of reasons. First of all, to show that, no matter who we are (Christian or not. Good family or not. Everything else or not.) we are not immune from the horribly crappy life situations that can happen to us at any moment. We are all going to be brought through the fire and brought to our knees and it's up to us whether these situations will turn us bitter or strengthen our resolve to be ever more thankful.

Of course it's not all that easy. It's not easy to rejoice when your depressed. It's not easy to say "thank you God" when you don't know where your next dollar will come from. It's not easy to be happy when you're physically suffering and thinking "am I ever going to get all my stupid health issues figured out." AND THEN, add on the Facebook/Instagram/Social Media worlds where everyone else (seems) perfect and you have a recipe for disaster - no, even worse: HOPELESSNESS.

But there is a cure for that: GRATITUDE. (seeeee, bold caps again.)

*In the midst of a financial crisis? "Thank you Lord for what I do have and for carrying me thus far."

*Have a baby waking up every 2 hours at night? "Thank you Lord for her good naps."

*Got kids going crazy, off the deep end? "Thank you Lord for the gift of wisdom and patience."

*And on the flip side: seeing others have more than us? "Thank you Lord for providing for them."

*Seeing others perhaps bearing "less crosses" (although I argue this doesn't happen): "Thank you Lord for sparing them what I am going through."

And on and on and on...again it's soooooo not easy to be thankful amidst strife but, when cultivated, it becomes a saving grace and the path towards happiness no matter our situation. Gratitude and thankfulness allow us to become like St. Paul - content, at peace, HAPPY even while facing death:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:4-7

(and my favorite verse prolly in the whole Bible):

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phil 4:11-13

So there, we have it. Thankfulness. The secret to happiness and contentment and simplicity and all the other warm fuzzy stuff that kicks hopelessness in the teeth and breeds the peace we're all looking for. 

As Thanksgiving approaches may we all flip the switch and look at life through eyes of gratitude and not grumbling. Even when the baby pukes all over your face.


Sarah Vanscoy said...

I love reading your blog! You're such a beautiful person and so inspiring :) happy thanksgiving!

Kristine Mauss said...

Thank you Sarah! Hearing those words always makes my day and keeps me trucking along :) Happy Thanksgiving to you and your beautiful family!

Joy Carlson said...

Loved this one! Thank you for your transparency and for speaking truth!!!