Facebook is not always conducive to cultivating a heart of contentment; usually the newsfeed is filled with what our friends want us to see, and that’s not always their daily reality. We see the beautifully decorated living rooms and gracefully trimmed trees – not the worn out cardboard boxes for storing Christmas decorations, the stray bits of tissue paper, or the dried pine needles littering the carpet that manage to escape the clean-up process in my home. And somehow days of disaster turn into humorous retellings of diaper blow-outs or obnoxious pets knocking over valuable family heirlooms or being locked out of the house with the dog and the baby. The overflow of desperate emotions doesn’t manage to make it into the status update, and when my days of disaster occur I somehow feel like the only emotional basket-case on the block. I can’t help but compare every aspect of my life to everyone else’s and timidly peek through my fingers at the result: will their lives prove to be better than mine? As I approach the new year this is a habit that I pray to have removed from my heart.
You see, my time with Jesus has revealed to me that the root of discontent is found in a heart that lacks gratitude. A truly thankful heart has no room to nurse seeds of envy, jealousy, or covetousness. A heart that is focused on counting her blessings will not have time to consider being discontent. In fact, a grateful heart would shudder at the thought of wanting a different life or anything other than what she has. Starting today I am going to construct the habit of gratitude within my daily life. This habit may seem simple, but its effects will be far-reaching within my life and the lives of those around me. Here are a few of the things I am humbly grateful for today:
*My husband who is a faithful example of Jesus to me. He tenderly guides me through my turbulent emotions, faithfully protects me from the worries and doubts that assail my mind on a daily basis, and diligently provides for me even when doing so consumes all of his own free time.
*My son who is becoming verbal and adorably interactive. He sleeps beautifully at night and enjoys a routine that allows me to have time to do extra things. It is fulfilling to watch him grow and discover every day.
*My obnoxious pets. Each one is a source of delightful entertainment.
*My cozy home. I love having a space to call my own and in which I can offer hospitality to our dear friends and family.
*Most of all, I am so grateful for Jesus. Without Him and His mercy, I would have none of the gifts just named. He provides me with innumerable second chances to try again, and again, and again. He equips me with the desire to live a holy life and the strength to pursue that desire. He will complete the good work that He has begun in me.
Galatians 2:21 states, “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” I am only now beginning to recognize the profundity of this verse. My default tendency is to work for my salvation and do daily penance for all of my sins. But my husband continues to point me to the Word of God and the promises therein of the complete payment for those sins that was made on the Cross so long ago. I want to live the costly freedom that is mine. Living with gratitude embodies that freedom.