How Gratitude Rescued Me

Person-Hands-Holding-Small-Flower-600x375I made a new friend this month.  Her name is Gratitude.  For years she was the dusty old acquaintance to whom I paid a cursory nod on all the appropriate occasions—anniversaries, birthdays, graduations.  But I never invited her into my daily life, and certainly not into my sorrow.  Not until recently.

I picked up a book about Gratitude, and to my surprise discovered that I barely knew her.  In all my years, I had hardly scratched the surface of all that she is and all that she can be.

So I resolved to get to know her.  Intentionally, this time.  I began to welcome her into my life.  At first, it was just in the peaceful moments.  I took her along on my morning jog, and discovered that she brought the world to life around me.  She made the sunshine brighter, the wind cooler, the trees grander.  She made me notice tiny blessings I’d never seen before.  Made me feel the strength of my body, able to run, the clarity of my mind able to think, the grace of my God evident all around me.

I took her out for coffee dates and explored her with fresh eyes.  And she became to me a most pleasant companion.  And then one day, she surprised me by showing up in the midst of my appointment with Pity, when I hadn’t invited her.  She tapped me on the shoulder as I was rehearsing my complaints, and at first I wanted to tell her to go away.  “Come back another time,” I wanted to say.  “This is no place for you.”  But she looked at Pity so sternly that I suddenly realized Gratitude can be fierce.  She was determined to stay, and at last Pity gave way to her.  Then, with a smile, Gratitude introduced me to her very best friend.  “This,” she said softly, “is Joy.  She loves to come along with me everywhere I go.”

I liked Joy immensely, and I hoped she’d never leave.  But I had a secret, and I knew that eventually it would jeopardize my friendships with Gratitude and Joy.  You see, I was in a partnership—I had been for years—with two very strong tyrants.  They burst into my home whenever they pleased, several times a day, and they moved me at their will, and I believed I was powerless against them.  One was loud and rude and he called himself Anger, and the other was monstrously large and named himself Pride.

They loved to visit me when the house was a wreck and the kids were a mess and dinner was burnt on the stove.  And always after they left, they sent Regret and Sorrow in their wake.  One day when I was lost in their grip, I noticed a spark of sunshine on the floor, so small I had to squint to see it.  It climbed into my palm and when I held it to my face, I was shocked to see that it was Gratitude, shrunken so that she was scarcely larger than a dandelion.  “How dare you try to enter here!”  I screamed into her face.  And with Anger and Pride rallying around, I yelled, “Get out!  Get out!  I don’t want to see you now!”

At last she spoke in the faintest voice, and this is what she said: “If you bid me go, I will go.  But I must warn you, I have to take Joy with me.  But,” she said, and I thought her voice grew, “If you want me to stay, I will fight for you.”

I winced in dismay for my heart was torn.  “But you are so small,” I finally said.  “How can you ever win?”

“You must feed me,” she said.  “And hold me.  And welcome me.  And if you do, I will grow so vast that I promise I will outshine these monsters holding onto you.  I,” she said firmly, “am very powerful.”

Gratitude had enchanted me, and amused me, and even surprised me.  But that day she rescued me.  That day I learned that Gratitude can do more than just dance in the sun—she can wage war in the darkness.  “Yes,” I told her when Anger and Pride had fled and Joy again was holding my hand.  “Yes, Gratitude, my dearest friend—you are very powerful, indeed.”

A response to all I am learning from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book, Choosing Gratitude.

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Wives, Do You Envy Your Husbands?

Portrait of frustrated business woman sitting in office

Not many wives would probably say they are “jealous” of their husband in the traditional sense.  When we think of jealousy, we usually picture other women: their creative mothering, skinny figure, padded bank account, gorgeous home…

But let me ask you (as I ask myself):
Have you ever wanted to be the final authority in your family’s big decisions?
Have you ever wished you had freedom to go on special “man trips” or have the same amount of time away from the kids as he does?
Have you ever wanted to change the same amount of diapers your husband changes?
Have you ever wanted to sleep through the crying while he wakes up instead?
Have you ever felt a little pang of frustration at his paycheck compared to yours?
Have you ever thought he had it easy when you have it hard?
Have you ever wanted to say, “You figure our dinner tonight…and clean up too!”

Envy lies beneath the surface of all these thoughts.

When Daydreams Lead to Bitterness
One of the first times I felt the passionate sting of “husband envy” was during a family vacation with our small children in tow.  Each day, my husband would sleep late into the morning, while I woke up early with three hungry little boys (just like I did at home).  I found myself feeding everyone breakfast, eye rolling his behavior to our extended family members, and thinking to myself, “This just isn’t fair!  I want to sleep in and have a vacation too, but I’m the one stuck with the kids.”  As the minutes rolled by, I felt more frustrated and thought of ways to sabotage his slumber.  Even now, I sometimes find myself wrestling with this as he occasionally sleeps-in later than the children on the weekends, but with God’s help, I’m changing my outlook.

Allowing my husband to sleep is a way to serve and bless him.  He regularly gets up with the kids during the night while I get to continue sleeping, but I seem to forget all of his sacrifices when I’m feeling shortchanged.  And if I really need more rest on a Saturday, I know a prayerful and well-timed conversation would be more helpful than a heart brewing with envy.

Maybe you can relate, or maybe you battle envy on a different front.  Maybe you assume your husband couldn’t possibly understand the challenge of being a working mom—responsible for nursing, changing diapers, and packing bags all before commuting to the office by 8:00am.  Or maybe as a stay-at-home mom, you’ve sometimes felt like a martyr for the family, dealing with mess after mess all day long while your husband gets dressed for the quiet office.

I’ve talked to many wives and moms who admit to daydreaming about switching places with their husband.  They replay the differences over and over in their head:
He gets emails, I get dirty diapers.
He gets adult conversation, I get baby babble.
He gets breaks, I have to pump in the bathroom at the office.
He gets an after-hours drink, I have to rush to day care.
He gets to golf on Saturday, I have to entertain the kids and clean up.
He gets (fill in the blank), I have to (fill in the blank).

This is the same type of poisonous comparison and envy that infects our relationships with other women.  It’s just being practiced within the context of marriage.  When we declare our state of life unfair, and determine that our husband’s life is the better one, we’ve let a spirit of envy steal our hope in the gospel.

Why the Gospel Frees us to Rejoice
Before God, we are all equal with our husbands.  We are equally created in God’s image, equally sinful, and equally in need of a Savior.  You and your husband may live in different worlds, but these truths unite you before God.

When you believe that you deserve death and condemnation for your sin, AND that you’ve been given incredible mercy through the death of Christ on your behalf, you realize your greatest needs have been met.  Any other blessing God gives you is just a bonus to enjoy in this life.  But how does this practically translate into real life?

Knowing who you are in Christ means that you can trust God’s unique plan and purpose for your life, without needing it to be like anyone else.

Understanding what you really deserve allows you to rejoice for all the great things your husband gets to do, without feeling bitter or prideful.

Believing that God is good and offers good for your life allows you to take hard circumstances and face them with joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Seeing Christ as the greatest servant allows you to take the place of a servant in your marriage, looking for ways to lay down your life instead of take on the life of another.

As wives, we don’t have to live discouraged and embittered by our husbands’ opportunities.  Instead, we can lay down a heart of jealousy, rejoice in our differences, and thank God for the work He has given us to do.  Who knows…we might even start realizing how good we have it, and discover joy in the unique life God has given us!

Cal, Emily, Lewis, Brad, and Gabriel + baby boy #4 due in August!

Meet the Author
Guest blogger Emily Jensen is a wife and mom of 3 boys under the age of 3.  And oh yeah, she has another one on the way!  When she isn’t wrangling little warriors, she’s passionate about sharing gospel applications for the daily lives of women.  Emily blogs at  You can also follow her via Twitter and Facebook.

Interested in contributing a Guest Post?  Click here!

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