Tag Archives: Attitude of gratitude

Thanking God for Broken Relationships . . .

27 Dec

In reading and writing about an attitude of gratitude this Christmastime, I saw something very interesting that was written about estranged relationships (and, no, I don’t remember who wrote it, but this is a paraphrase, not a quote so I will go with it . . .).

The writer said that, at year’s end, we may look back and see some relationships/friendships that we used to have that have ended.  

We grieve those.  

But they also show us that we had a deep, real relationship with that person in the past because if we only had superficial relationships all life long, we would not only never grieve for lost relationships, we would not even miss them!

I like that way of looking at it.  

And I will add that, before we do this assessment, and move on, we had best make sure that our own conscience is clear about not causing the end of that relationship.  If we caused it to end, we owe someone an apology, whether or not the relationship ever is renewed.  

And then, even if the other person chose to walk away from us, with 100% of the responsibility for the relationship ending, did we at least try to fix things from our end?  Did we tell the person we missed her and try to reconnect?  If so, our consciences are clear and we need to realize that people will walk away from us all life long, even after deep, real friendships.  It just happens.   

Grieve it, move on, be older and wiser.  

Life on a fallen planet it like that.   

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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues . . .

26 Dec

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues . . .

I reread my post from Christmas Eve today, with the intent not to delete it, but to seriously edit it.

I left it as it was.

It was a slice of family life, of exhausted family life on Christmas Eve. It presented us, warts and all.

In the midst of talking about an attitude of gratitude, I was griping about families taking us for granted by not exhibiting an attitude of gratitude.

See what I did there? Reciprocated the feeling. If they take me for granted, I get to complain about them . . .

And, in human nature, that happens. But it is also important to remember that, in Christ, we have overcome many things. Human nature can be one of them.

By His power, His resurrection power. Not by our own puny efforts.

So . . . while we all gripe sometimes, we also are in that “already, not yet” tension that is life in Christ on a fallen planet.

We have to self-talk and remind ourselves that everything that touches us comes through the hands of a loving God. Even feeling taken for granted by our families.

That doesn’t excuse lack of action on our part. If we don’t tell them that we feel taken for granted, they will never figure it out by themselves.

But it does mean we rejoice as we realize that we are in Christ and, in Him, we have all things.

I will leave my post up, as it is. It will encourage someone else who is struggling.

And, in the end, I got where I needed to get. Back to the feet of Christ our Lord!

Performance-based Parenting

24 Dec

I serve a perfect, all-knowing Saviour, but I am a work in progress and will be one until the day I depart this earth.

One thing I am struggling with right now is the idea that an attitude of gratitude is hard to teach to one’s offspring.  

I don’t necessarily think that is an issue restricted to special needs offspring.  I have seen enough examples of the “most entitled generation ever” to say that many of us have not been able to teach the concept of “attitude of gratitude.”  Or maybe not all of my generation even tried . . .  

I know that my special needs son needs to catch this as an attitude of the heart, not as an externally imposed rule from me.  I also know his college, which is a Christian school for special needs people, is aware of the need to convey this concept in a heart-to-heart way.  So we all keep plugging away at teaching it . . .

Where I think I have failed in the past is in not realizing that if I accept dismissive behavior directed toward me by my son, I am disobeying the part of God’s Word that says children need to be taught to respect their parents, and actually to treat every human being with dignity.  

It is subtle, this whole issue.  I certainly imposed consequences for blatantly disrespectful language or actions.  

What I didn’t see coming until it was in my rearview mirror was the tendency to hand me a “to do list” for which appreciation is never shown, but with a new list of demands being issued when the old list is finished.  

I spent my childhood trying to find one minute in which I felt I had completed enough actions to be considered a good daughter.  I now find myself spending my motherhood doing the same, in relation to my child.  I am measuring my parenting by whether I can ever get to the point where I have completed the “to do list” of things my kid wants done for him.  And the answer is . . . I cannot.  

There is so much wrong there, at so many levels.  Relationships should not be defined by what others do for us.  We all know that.  Or rather, the only relationship that should be defined by what others do for us is that of employer and employee.

But what makes me saddest is that I have not conveyed the idea of an attitude of gratitude.  I don’t often hear “thank you” when we cross one thing off the “to do list.”  Actually, I usually just hear that one thing being replaced by two more requirements.  And I know they are only requirements because I allow them to be.

I know that getting mad and pushing back will not solve this.  We cannot legislate an attitude of gratitude.  Sitting down like a mule and saying I won’t do anything more for my family won’t cut it either.  Nothing that is being asked of me is abnormal for family life.  It is just all being asked in a way that takes me totally for granted.  

I did just declare a moratorium for Christmas Eve and Christmas.  I will not acknowledge any requests till the 26th.  I am exhausted, ten days after my son arrived home from college.  We have been to two malls, the Navy Exchange twice, a thrift store, three special restaurants, the doctor, a beauty parlor (for haircut), and the grocery store that has six packs of Coke.  That is not factoring in all of the requests to jump up and find things for him at home or to do things for him that he has not yet mastered for himself (that is probably the special needs part–and, in all fairness, he is working on self-help skills and is making great progress).  

So, for those of you who have never lived with a special needs person, that may be an eye-opening rant, although I know we all have our own responsibilities in life and many, many of us live in a sacrificial way within our families.  

I just realize that it is a two-way street.  If we are nothing but sacrifice, then our children become nothing but takers.  

And, if my parenting is to be performance-based at all, I should at least take God’s view of my performance, which is that I should convey righteous standards to my child, not teach him to be a taker all life long.  

I take the point and . . . I run to my Saviour once again, to be found fully sufficient in Him and in His righteousness, while I walk this earth in fear and trembling, living and learning and growing and always knowing I fall short, but that in Him I have everything.     

When is the right time to get right with God?

24 Dec

I have been thinking this week about an attitude of gratitude and how a lack thereof seems to be the basis for every sin we can commit against God.  

Nothing we can do to offend Him seems to be independent of Him and of the grace He has so freely given us.  He encloses us from all sides, and so does His grace.  Even when we act out against Him, we have to go through layers of His grace to do so.   

Everything we do to sin against Him seems to reinforce the idea that we think we don’t need Him and His stinking grace.  That we can make it on our own.  

Ironically, the American pioneer spirit that morphed into the American entrepreneurial spirit often seems to credit man for his achievements on his own, not factoring in the God who gave him his abilities and his opportunities.  

Absolutely right, President Obama.  We didn’t build that on our own.  American ingenuity did not happen in a vacuum.  But it also wasn’t empowered by government or by a community of other people.  At its base, it was empowered by God.  Everything is.

Knowing that, what do we do to be in relationship with God?  We acknowledge our neediness in relation to His abundance.  We accept His gifts, freely given to us.  Most of all, we accept the gift of His Son whom He sent at Christmastime to pay the penalty for our sins.

Sadly, many people go through life with no understanding that they owe gratitude to God.  They think God will be lucky to get them as followers.  And they put off the time when they will become His followers.  They may intend to do that after they have pursued every dream they have, independently of Him.

Problem with that is, there is never a good time to suddenly switch to a planned attitude of gratitude.  There are so many reasons to justify remaining independent of God.  And, when we do, we may find a way of becoming bitter with God when He speaks into our lives.

Case in point, how many people live their lives independently of God, then consider following Him when they grow older and suddenly face cancer or heart disease?  Problem with that is that those conditions can produce immense fear and depression, merely by inhabiting the human body.  Family members may struggle with the same emotions, trying to care for us while we are ill.  If we have not previously begun a relationship with God, there is a very good chance that we won’t see anything in these situations to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in us now.  Quite the opposite, we might get downright angry with God for allowing heart disease or cancer, even in a person 60 or 70 years old who has previously had a healthy life with many travels and adventures.  

Statistics show that it is extremely rare for a person who has lived life independently of God to suddenly turn to Him in the 60’s or 70’s. There is a very good reason God told us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth.

I plead with everyone reading this to get right with God this Christmastime.  There will probably not be a time later on when you are more likely to do so.  

And . . . if we fail to plan for eternity, we default to having the same situation in eternity as we had in this life.  An eternity independent of God.  In a place called hell. 

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