Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
|sometimes God requires us to show gratitude |
and obedience before the blessing is granted.
Cultivating gratitude may be among
the hardest lessons, but it is crucial to joy.
Click to Tweet This
It is my lot in life to live and learn the lessons my friends will then endure. My purpose in friendship is to be the encourager; the coach. My method is this…”you can do this. I survived it. You will too, and I will be there.”
(I'll keep saying this until we all internalize it...) Our lessons await our readiness. What you need to learn is likely right in front of you. However, until you accept the challenge, listen without resistance or complaint, receive and then apply what you’ve discovered; its proximity is of no value. It is only time when its time. We repeat the lessons until we master them. Otherwise, we are doomed, like Sisyphus pushing that dang rock.
I routinely re-read what I’ve written, not only because those words reveal my growth as a writer, or the evolution of a perspective, but also to discover that while I have mastered some lessons, there are plenty of summits left to ascend. Not too long ago one message reminded me that releasing something you no longer need allows you to embrace a deeper level of Faith, making space for something new.
Years ago I read,
Surrender can be the sweetest thing. Practice surrender and let the Universe do its work.
The unknown author didn't write it for me. Even as I collected it to ponder over and unpack later I couldn’t know when or how desperately I'd need it. I got it in stages, but not all the way. Surrender seemed so much like losing. I NEVER lose, even when I choose to walk away. However, suffering is something entirely different; suffering has the capacity to swallow you whole along with all those you love. There is a point when suffering overwhelms you. At that moment, you understand that surrender means resisting no longer.
I have a dear friend (my bread buddy) who excels at success. Failure simply is never an option. Even resistance is a struggle for her. Everything she undertakes must succeed; all that she does must be exceptional.It can be exhausting, both the endure and also to watch.
I understand her struggle, as I lived it for so many years. However, at some point, the illusion I called “control” slipped irretrievably from my hands. I pouted. I cried. I railed at God. He neither relented nor cared. Control did not yield to my will. I collapsed in exhaustion. I thought I was finished. There was a lesson.
I was never supposed to manage things on my own, to have any plan proceed without flaw. Looking back, I am deeply grateful. Had Life proceeded according to my plan, I’d have thought I did it on my own. You see, not only is His Grace sufficient, His power is perfected in our weakness. And, with that understanding, I celebrate my human frailty, my foolish anger and fear, and all the times I intended to, but never quite got it right.
I learned contentment; contentment which does not include accepting the status quo. The art of contentment is the art of blooming where you are planted AND mining that joy. I remember writing the Ode to my Temple…
You were my first and enduring gift. You are with me every moment. You have never failed me. Where I desire to go, you carry me. Upon rising, I sense your rhythms and we adjust, finding balance, grounding, coming into our beautiful natural pace; it happens without thought. You support me and I have neglected you. Without complaint, without resistance, you have accepted more than was necessary and this body is the result. While I love you as you are, we can and must do better.
Contentment is the “I love you as you are” statement. If nothing in your life ever changed, could you truly learn to practice gratitude for what is? I am learning that sometimes God requires us to show gratitude and obedience before the blessing is granted. Cultivating gratitude may be among the hardest lessons, but it is crucial to joy. I fear that without gratitude, happiness is what we get, and while happiness is good, I find it fleeting and transitory. Happiness is a treat. Joy is a lifestyle.
Contentment does not equal stagnancy. Contentment comes in the form of the joy we uncover in every moment, appreciating that moment and all that it holds as if it were your last, because it might be so. (acknowledging with love and gratitude every friend I lost too soon...I live my life to honor you. Thank you for the lessons you taught me.)Finding joy and cultivating contentment becomes a discipline. It is not settling, and should not be dismissed. It is a practice that takes time. It is a daily practice, like learning to pray, like learning to dance, like learning to forgive yourself and practice compassion with the world. Contentment is the practice of existing in a state of Grace and Gratitude. It is appreciating the profound and unalterable Will of God, which will neither be denied nor thwarted. It is like gravity. You need not believe it for it to exist.
Our lessons await our readiness. Choose to hide from them and they will find you. Choose to avoid them and they will linger until they are learned. Like gravity, our lessons, God’s Will, isn’t going anywhere.