Monday, March 29, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 153

The practice of gratitude was put to the test for me last Thursday night.

I didn't put up a thankful list last Monday, but I had plenty to be thankful for. Steve left last Sunday night for a business trip, so rather than spend the weekend alone, Elijah and I headed to Memphis to spend a few days with one of my favorite families. We drove home on Thursday, expecting to joyfully (if tiredly) greet Steve around midnight after a late flight.

I don't know how single moms do it, honestly...I do not handle single parenting well. Even surrounded by dear friends, I struggled. My patience was near nonexistent, my frustration high, my joy definitely missing. By Thursday afternoon, I was counting down the hours until Steve got home--not only because I missed him, but also (selfishly) because I looked forward to dumping Elijah on him Friday and taking a break.

So you can imagine how I felt when Steve called to say that the flight out of New York was delayed, and they might miss their connection in D.C. And how I felt a few hours later when he called again to say that not only was he definitely stuck in D.C. for the night, but that he was only on standby for Friday flights home.

I wanted to whine and complain. I wanted to wallow in bitterness and resentment and self-pity. Even now with a few days' perspective, it seems such a foolish, petty thing. But at the time, it was a battle. And I did wallow, for a while.

But by the grace of God, some words from sweet, wise Ann came to mind. I remembered her Monday gratitude post, in which she said:
The only way to live in the joy of the Lord... is to believe that the Lord only gives life for joy. That's the real reality I realize, fight wild to cling to on a Friday...when it seems just a matter of time until I have my mothering license revoked...That's the truth I whisper when I look in the mirror on a Monday morning.

That our Creator God passionately wraps each moment different but He's actually the most predictable of gift givers. God gives only one kind of gift: All is for joy. I remember it again: In the midst of the ugly, there's always a window through to the joy beauty.

Never be deceived by ugly wrapping paper. When I believe that God gives every moment always for ultimate joy, every moment becomes a gift. And I can always unwrap any ugly to discover the beauty of joy.
So with a deep breath, I pulled my angry, disappointed self off the futon. I didn't want to do it. I certainly didn't feel grateful. But I had to admit that wallowing wasn't going to make me feel better, wasn't going to help at all. By grace I picked up my pen and my journal, reread and copied Ann's words, and then started counting blessings. Things like:

381. a toddler who loves Mama so much that he is distraught when she disappears for ten seconds
382. Diane, who loves me in spite of my being a mess
383. a toddler who loves music so much he asks for it incessantly
384. having to leave Memphis three hours later than planned, which meant I got spaghetti for dinner instead of snacks in the car
385. truth blaring through car speakers in song when I am too weak to preach to myself

386. a smooth transfer from carseat to bed, with little crying
387. Steve being one step closer to home
388. Steve having his luggage, since he carried on and didn't check his bag
389. grace to remember Ann's blog post and start this list

Then, in God's lavish, ridiculous grace, I got to thank Him again on Friday when...

390. Steve was one of two guys who got on the first flight out of D.C.
391. Steve walked in the door around 10AM and wrapped me up in a huge hug
392. we got to spend the entire day together, since he didn't have to go to work after that ordeal

Slowly, I am learning that because all things pass through His sovereign, wise, loving hands, all things are gifts, no matter how they look to me at first. I am learning to choose gratitude.

holy experience

1 comment:

Karen said...

What a beautiful list. I am glad you were prompted to remember Ann's post which in turn , also reminded me to look beyond ugly wrappings.
Thanks for sharing!