Monday, November 21, 2011

The Other side of Gratitude

There she sat, in the middle of torn wrapping paper, ribbons and a pile of new toys, crying in frustration because there were no more presents to open. I remember the swift play of emotions - humor, compassion, and a touch of disappointment. I had expected something different in return for all we had given.

I thought of that moment as I found myself standing on the flip side of gratitude. I felt a bit like that little one who thought the gifts would come all wrapped in beautiful paper and tied with shiny ribbon and that there would be an endless supply.

To be sure, the gifts have come - lovely, numerous and better than I imagined. However, there have been other gifts - ones I've chosen not to label as such. Ugly ones that I didn't expect - one piled on top of another. And rather than give thanks for everything, I chose to focus on the ones I didn't want and stepped from gratitude to complaining.

Unfortunately, a heart that starts to complain doesn't stop there. It begins a downward cycle into self-pity, envy, and anger. Finally it goes a step too far and a gap between the Father and the heart begins to open and grow wider with the passage of time. Until there is an emptiness - a silence - that becomes unbearable.

The miracle of love, God's love, is that it is never exhausted. All I need to do is turn around and step back into His embrace. Repentance is met with grace. And in return there can be only the deepest gratitude.

Thank You Father for:

- the gentle whisper of conviction that never condemns

- times of disappointment

- problems that seem to have no easy solution

- weariness and sickness

- disasters that loomed on the horizon and then disappeared

- the newly poured foundation of our home

- the well, that didn't cost twice what they estimated

- rain

- planes, carried on the wings of prayer, that bring a much loved daughter safely across the ocean and back

- friends that pray

- visits with family

- Old Testament stories that speak today's truths to my heart

- Christmas music

- holidays given true meaning and real joy because of Him

- the anticipation of a visit from a precious granddaughter

- the lightness when the burden is lifted

- forgiveness and grace

linking with Ann's Gratitude Community