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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15 thoughts on “How Gratitude Rescued Me

  1. soryda

    Really powerful post. Thank you so much for sharing it. I started taking gratitude a long with me wherever I go now too and it has made an immeasurable difference in my life. When I realize what I deserve, and what He gave me in it’s place, all I want to do is fall down and cry out the only words I can offer that don’t seem very powerful at all…but they’re all I have to give. “Thank you, Lord.” I’m joyfully surrendered and it brings Him glory.

    Reply
  2. blomfam

    Beautiful, and very moving. Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for expressing so poetically the strength that Gratitude and Joy can have to fight for us. By God’s grace I’ve been learning this too, amidst a chronic illness that moved in 2 1/2 years ago and just won’t leave, no matter how hard I try to get better! I’ve been amazed at the joy and contentment God has given me through this time of grief, loss and pain. Yes, it’s still hard, but I’m not without hope. Thank you for putting into such gentle and touching words the way our loving Father does this!

    Reply
    1. jeanneharrison Post author

      Oh wow-Thank you so much for sharing this. Testifying of God’s joy & contentment in the face of suffering is always the most powerful sort of testimony. So blessed by this!

      Reply
  3. Amy Maroney

    All I can say is Wow! Thank you so much for personifying these attitudes in such a clear way. You have have changed my week and inspired me to change “friends” too! I have loved all your posts that I have read, but I think this may be my very favorite!

    Gods very best to you and yours!!

    -Amy Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply
  4. Rebekah

    Jeanne,
    I’m sitting here at my kitchen table…and I’m supposed to be meal planning, and making a shopping list. My family is asleep. And I decided to check my inbox real quick before starting my shopping list…I couldn’t be happier that I did. Reading this…I had tears streaming down my face. It’s so true. The screen blurs, and I can hardly say thank you, and amen to this. Gratitude is powerful, one of the most powerful things. I’m going to be sharing this with many of my friends. It’s so piercing and precise–the emotions the feelings, the truth. Thanks for taking the time to write this, and I just think the Holy Spirit is so powerfully speaking through this. Thank you so much.

    Reply
      1. Rebekah

        So glad to hear that Jeanne..I am still sniffling..just thinking about this article, and Gratitude’s power. Because I’ve tasted it before, and need to taste it again. I just shared it on my Barren to Beautiful Facebook page, so feel free to check that out, if you want see any comments it may also bring. Thanks again and thank you to your husband..because I know how taking time to write something like this means mom needs some “alone” time.;)

  5. Melissa hoffman

    This is beautiful and it reads like a children’s story. You should think about publishing it in a children’s book! I can already imagine the beautiful illustrations…….

    Reply
    1. jeanneharrison Post author

      That’s so funny-when I first had the idea I pictured it as a children’s book too! I just knew I have no contacts or resources to make it happen so I posted it on my blog.

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this. I couldn’t read it when it first came out because resentment and anger had my heart. I pray next time, I’ll catch a glimpse of gratitude in those times!

    Reply
  7. mlmoeny

    Thank you. I realized a few years back that I had allowed the presence of dissatisfaction to pervade every aspect of my life. Nothing was ever good enough or right enough and everything, including my LORD, was falling short of being ‘enough’. I felt as if the stench of dissatisfaction, like an old mildew-y tent, pervaded everything. It took the death of my mother to open my eyes to His amazing, liberating gift of grace. Occasionally I still will smell the scent of mildew, but I don’t choose to live there any more.

    Reply
    1. jeanneharrison Post author

      I love how you said that-I still smell that stench too! It’s an onward battle. How amazing that God used a tragedy to open your eyes to His grace! He is incredible. Thank you for sharing this-it blesses me!

      Reply

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