GRATITUDE IS THE BEST ATTITUDE
Have you noticed that no matter how your world is turned upside down or how much disappointment is heaped upon you, there is really nowhere else to look but up? Have you noticed that after navigating a particularly difficult season in life you eventually come around to an attitude of gratitude once again?
Today I can say with confidence that God has immersed me in His grace and He has blessed me with greater awareness and understanding than was possible in my pre-transition state! Thank goodness for His sanctification process that is shaping my character. I know He has been faithful to do His work because my spirit is alive and well despite a rocky last few months!
I have been challenged recently by a statement made by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor and theologian, whose involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution in 1945. Dietrich said, "Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy."
Certainly because of all he suffered, Dietrich could offer this testimony with genuine credibility. There were many dark days in prison as he approached his execution but even the painful pangs of memory were changed to peaceful joy and acceptance because he cultivated an attitude of gratitude while awaiting his fate.
Dietrich is also quoted as saying, "In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others."
In this quote I find a helpful hint about how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude surges into significance when I take time to stop and think about all that I have been given. This recognition not only helps me put my own achievements in proper perspective but it also creates space for me to fill with remembrance and then appreciation for everyone who enabled me to accomplish them.
Here are some helpful questions for gaining greater clarity:
Have I valued my own achievements more than appreciating what I have been given? If so, stop it!
How much of who I am and what I have to offer is owed to others? Everything!
Is it possible I owe much more than I could every repay? Absolutely!
Is there room in my life for more gratitude? Yes, lots of space to fill with names and faces!
Thank you, Lord, for protecting my soul.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me a future and a hope.
Thank you, Lord, for giving my life purpose everyday.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me a dream with an unfamiliar tune and teaching me the lyrics.
Thank you, Lord, for parents who stayed together and created a safe home.
Thank you, Lord, for a husband who rejoices with my successes and weeps with my failures.
Thank you, Lord, for sons who generously give me their undivided attention.
Thank you, Lord, for daughters who graciously give me their warm affection.
Thank you, Lord, for energetic grandchildren who give me endless fun and laughter.
Thank you, Lord, for friends who love me in all manner of creative ways.
Thank you, Lord, for mentees who cheerfully give me their trust and respect.
Thank you, Lord, for loving Christians who embrace my pastor husband and his unique wife
It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor grey ember of Creation and it turns to radiance--for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light... Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don't have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it?
- p. 245, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Thank you, Lord, for replacing pangs of memory with tranquil joy!