My journey towards contentment has led me to dwell more on gratitude than is my tendency. I find it is my default to notice the less than desirable in life rather than what is good. I would venture to say that the majority of us identify more with Scrooge than Pollyanna when reacting to life. In fact, the Pollyannas in our life probably receive eye rolls from us more than pats on the back. However, it takes courage to be grateful when you’re struggling.
Not too long ago I was trudging through a particularly difficult few days – the “life is throwing me lemons” kind of weekend. My reaction of preference was to throw myself a big pity party which got me to thinking about lemonade. “I suppose I should try to glean something good out of this rough patch; I’ve obviously been handed lemons so maybe I should make some lemonade. Lemonade doesn’t last too long, though,” I reasoned. I was working in my little tomato garden and that got me to thinking about seeds. “Seeds get thrown into dirt, not lush grass. They need something seemingly barren in order to take root and grow. I’m going to view this difficult time as life handing me a packet of seeds. Seeds take root, grow and produce lasting fruit.” As I focused on all of the different “seeds” I could plant from pain and struggle, I noticed my outlook beginning to take a 180. I could no longer be completely downtrodden in my circumstances; gratitude was replacing my discouragement.
My family and I are going to be making thankful lists to share around the Thanksgiving feast next week. These lists are going to be dated and filed away and added to through the years. We want to chronicle the cornucopia of blessings that God is faithfully pouring over us throughout our lifetime – some wrapped colorfully and delivered with joy; others more subtle and hidden within pain and tears. I am discovering that the source of lasting contentment is gratitude to my Heavenly Father for everything He allows to enter or leave my life.