An Attitude of Gratitude . . . it takes work!

It’s time to be real.  Life is HARD.  It is created to be this way on purpose.  These are tough words to hear when your life is deeply causing you pain and anguish.  I remember those days.  I felt crushed, weighed down, it felt impossible to move.  I wondered why God would lead me to this place, allowing this experience to happen to me?

I felt scared, alone, unsure and even more than I wanted to, I felt ANGRY.  I didn’t WANT to be here.  I wanted to be over there, being happy like my friends, footloose and carefree.  I didn’t want to be trapped in this weight and suffering.  Wasn’t man “meant to have joy?”  How was this helping me feel joy?  How was this helping me fell free?  Was I being punished?  What did I do to “deserve” being treated this way?

No matter how much I sunk into despair, I never found a bottom, a place to finally stop me.  I realized one day that enough was enough, there was NO BOTTOM, this would go on and on and on FOREVER.  I needed to stop doubting my faith and start doubting my doubts.  But how?  How does one stop falling and start climbing when gravity is constantly pushing you, forcing you downward?

I have heard maybe a million times that I need to “Count my many blessings” or “Find something to be grateful for” or “Have an Attitude of Gratitude.”  But I had NO IDEA what those ideas or suggestions meant.  But what I realized was that what I wanted more than anything in life was to be TRULY happy.  Not just momentarily happy or a happiness that someone could take away or ruin, but a lasting happiness that was deep inside me, like a source of constant light.  Something that I could control.  But how?

My sweet father-in-law helped me out with this one.  One day I was complaining about my BIG, BEAUTIFUL, SPACIOUS LAUNDRY ROOM, FULLY STOCKED with FOOD STORAGE and FREEZER, FULLY FURNISHED, HOT TUB SOAKING, FENCED YARD PLAYING, BOAT STORING, 3 CAR GARAGE PARKING, LONG FRONT YARD RUNNING, GORGEOUS home.  My dear father-in-law turned and looked at me, as he was walking out my front door, and said, “You don’t appreciate what you have.  THAT’S your problem.”  And he walked down the stairs and hopefully off to have a wonderful day.

I stood there at my hot pink, front door, wondering what he meant by that.  Didn’t he hear a word I said.  I do appreciate ALL the Lord has given me to . . . I just felt that the house was too much!  Too much responsibility to clean, to financially pay for each month, to keep track of, to repair AND I worried what my friends thought of me (was I better than them because I had such a nice house?).

Looking back, I wasn’t grateful.  I was worried about what EVERYONE else thought.  I worried “people” would judge me if I cleaned my house well enough.  I worried my finance professors/family/friends/ward members would judge me for how I chose to spend my money.  I worried that I would look like an out of control mom, trying to take care of 4 small children in such a huge home and near a busy street.  And I worried that I wouldn’t notice a leak or crack in the foundation or mold or wood rot and cost us thousands of dollars that we could have avoided, if only “this lady KNEW what she was doing!”

The problem was . . . I wasn’t worrying what Heavenly Father thought but what “people” thought and no matter how hard I try, I WILL ALWAYS UPSET PEOPLE!  ALWAYS AND FOREVER!  NO MATTER WHAT!

 

It has been a slow learning process, but I realized that day that I needed to start LEARNING HOW to be grateful.  I realized that I didn’t know HOW to do this, I needed to learn.  I was literally deficient of this important way of thinking.  So I started.  First, I listened all around me for people who were grateful, trying my best to learn from them what they knew about gratitude and then try to implement it myself.  Second, I started waking up and LOOKING for something to be grateful for and appreciating it.  That was easy at first but as the days wore on, I had to DIG for things to be grateful for.  Third, when life smacked me in the face, I needed to CHOOSE to be grateful, instead of upset, angry, or disappointed.  THAT WAS SO HARD to do but it has truly been working.

The more I have been SEARCHING for the blessings in my life, the MORE I feel my Father in Heaven LOVING me, CARING for me, SUPPORTING me and realizing that He KNOWS me and KNOWS what is BEST for me.  So I can TRUST Him and His plan for me!

 

Now when I wake up, instead of panicking what this day may hold or rushing to get done my “To Do List,” I pause to pray and ask Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son, what They would have me do today to help them.  I also lay at their feet all my worries, ALL my heart ache and sorrow, and I TRUST that THEY WILL help me handle each of them – whether they go away on their own or I must face them, I KNOW They are with me.

They promise me this.  I can trust in their word.  I know this is true as I renew my baptismal covenants with them each and every Sunday.  As I promise to take Jesus Christ’s name upon me, to ALWAYS remember Him when I am facing my ups and downs or my daily battles, and to keep the commandments that He has given to me – They promise me that I will ALWAYS have His Spirit to be with me.  As I trust and follow the faith that I have, whether it be big or small, I KNOW that They will be there to help me . . . even if it means that I FALL!

In learning to trust my Father in Heaven’s will for me, it has felt so much like falling.  But in learning to fall, I have literally been learning HOW to fly.

Heavenly Father has truly helped me to change my perspective.  He has helped me change the prescription of my actual eyes, to a prescription that has allowed me to see more clearly the beauty that is all around me.  Oh how I love to see weeds/burdens the way He does.  He sees them as opportunities to work and grow, a way to feel satisfied at the end of a day.  I used to see them as a punishment or busy work, something that wasn’t truly important.  Putting Him first has truly brought me to a place of TRUE HAPPINESS and inner peace.

Listen to a sample of this wonderful song by clicking “Better than a Hallelujah”

Now I can wake each morning and feel the joy still remaining from the previous day.  Yes, I still have the VERY SAME problems all around me, because I live with the VERY SAME people.  But I, myself, am happier.  And because I FEEL happier, I am able to help them and feel happier about what I did for them that day.  I can take a HUGE step back and see the bigger picture, or zoom in to notice the little things that made my day unique and enjoyable.  By letting myself “Count My Many Blessings, name them one by one,” I am truly ALLOWING myself to be TRULY happy.

**  I challenge you to start today.  Get a cute notebook and a favorite pen.  Each night before you go to bed, write down ONLY good things that happened to you that day . . . but try to look at your day to see HOW Heavenly Father was there.  Catch Him helping you.  Catch Him being there with you.  Or catch Him sending you the help you needed, or answer to your prayer.  Then say your prayers and THANK HIM for being there today.  He doesn’t “have to” be there, He chooses to be – just like we get to choose to go to Him.

May we all learn to stop taking Heavenly Father for granted, insisting He make our lives the way we think they should be and instead appreciate the big to the itty, bitty ways He is blessing us each day . . .  ways that are truly meant to bring us DEEP JOY!  This is my prayer for all those that I love, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

As always, thanks for listening,

*Thank you to all those who make these adorable memes that I have posted above.  I hope they don’t mind me using them, I have linked, to the best of my ability, who created the memes, in order to give proper credit and exposer.  I want the creators to know how much I appreciate being able to use their work, as a way to help inspire people to never give up!*

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