Sincere gratitude can be overwhelming. Scary even. We can run from gratefulness.
Yet thanks can take an atrophied body and pump it full of warm blood, the color of which is the symbol of love. And passion. Without this red running through our veins, we can’t live, and likewise, without gratitude, we can feel our bones crumbling within, our spirits gnawing; wanting more and having less. And so we give thanks, to remember all we have. To pause ourselves in the moment. Because what we have is more than less, it’s much, much more.
Though I haven’t always believed so.
When my little girl was born, I was overwhelmed. Fear was in the back of my mind. I didn’t expect a baby and I didn’t know if I’d be a good mother. But she was there with her chubby little body, dimply elbows, and creased folds.
She taught me thanks.
My child is my teacher;
gratitude’s her lesson,
Her grace is my praise.
She’s 6-years-old now: tall, smart, kind, and beyond-me-beautiful. In DSW the other day, she tried on a pair of hot pink high-heels, and my first intuition was to stick her back in my belly where she’d be protected from this world, but I chose not to swallow her whole. I’d rather hang out with her.
My boy poet followed my girl’s arrival two years later. He says things like, “Your eyes are like the sunrise,” and “from every house, to every house, I love you times that many.” He’s four now.
My husband is the opposite of me. He’s a pop culture junky. Someone brought up the Deep Thoughts comedy sketch from Saturday Night Live and he threw out twenty skits in a matter of minutes. He used to sing in a boy band and his musical tastes span from R&B to pop. He also had a strange penchant for Shaq movies when I met him. And to use an illustration, he’s kind of the cross beams to my structure.
So why I go through periods of grumbling I do not know. Or maybe I do, but I’m not ready to confess it. It’s real, my friends, these desert experiences. And there is no end to the dry air, until I give a sacrifice of praise. Meaning, I don’t want to be thankful. It’s more natural for me to be pitiful.
It’s easy to believe when we don’t think highly of ourselves that we’re being humble, but in C.S. Lewis’s words, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
Eww, cut me, will you not, Lewis?
Like my children need workbooks to learn math, I need paper to learn praise; otherwise, I’m relentless in my destruction. So my language lesson continues.
Covenant words were exchanged in October when my mom got married. Her ceremony was simple and beautiful; our family pulled this wedding off during the Thousand Year Storm, which should tell you something about the stock I come from. Perseverance hangs over us.
To see my mom smile was to see years of hardship wiped from her face, plus I got to experience her love of bunnies. My dad was there at my mom’s wedding. He handled the photography, stacked hundreds of chairs with my brothers, and he stayed till the last task was complete.
His presence and steadfastness have remained throughout my life. And my brothers, all teasing aside, are two of my favorite people on this earth.
Adding to my list: extended family to love on my children, friends who are gracious and authentic, open doors for my writing, a faithful dog, and stinky chickens that provide daily fresh eggs.
Minor points about my journal entries have changed over the years, but a consistent message come from these pages.
I find hope when I look for it.
Tell me about a time when you were overwhelmed with thanks? Did you find yourself taking greater leaps of faith, believing you could do more in your own life and in others, or did you run from it – believing it couldn’t last?
If it helps at all, I think it can last, that we can leap from one source of gratitude to the next. This is my hope for my readers, whom I’m continually thankful for.