Why am I so grateful?
“Begin every day with a grateful heart.” Yeah, we’ve all heard the sappy mantras about choosing happiness. Social media seems to alternate between desperately shallow positive vibes and cruel, soul crushing memes. Considering the kindhearted people who are posting, I think the positivity is well intended and the memes don’t typically intend cruelty, but sometimes I really struggle to understand this realm of communication. So, I am not posting an online gratitude journal so that I can fit in with the many inspiring and happy posts out there. I have a story, I have struggled and I am grateful for it all. Along the way I’ve learned some lessons the hard way, and I’d like to share with you what I have learned.
My husband and I were both plant people. We grew flowers together and sold them at farmer’s markets. It was a beautiful life and I still grow flowers, but in June 2018, I lost him to cancer. The love of family and friends that enveloped me was phenomenal. I took a week off from markets, and rested as much as I was able, but the plants were so pretty, I had to take them to the market. Going back without Ed was difficult and I did not sell very many plants. The market wasn’t really about the plants at that time, it was about my husband. Ed had been going to the market for over 20 years and was loved by everyone there. So, most people came into the stand and wept when they heard the news. The Regional Market became a place where Ed’s life was remembered and celebrated on a weekly basis. It was beautiful, and it was hard. Many people gave me advice, some of it conflicting. Lots of people wanted to help. But the advice I am offering was not offered to me. I knew I needed to face my grief head on, but at the same time, I refuse to drown in it. Sadness is to be expected and cannot always be avoided. Waves of emotion ebb and flow. It is ok to be sad, but sorrow leads to a crossroads where a choice must be made.
Bitterness wants to creep into our hearts. Looking back at what was, how easy it is to be angry and bitter about what is gone. After allowing this to become our perspective, it is easy to resent other people for their happiness and inability to understand. Bitterness leads to a life looking back, a life stuck in a moment of time that was good. There is no growth, there is no love. Life becomes an illusion of something now out of reach. Emptiness becomes an expanse in your heart that floods into your everyday life. Ed would regret ever coming into my life if he knew he could end my life in this way. I talk about Ed quite a bit and I remember so many wonderful moments of our life together, but I do not live in those moments that are gone. I miss Ed every day and expect I always will. A part of me hopes I always will. I will never forget the good he brought to my life or the influence he continues to have.
Bitterness is a choice. It is an easy and appealing choice, but there is another option. The only thing I found that kept me from bitterness was gratitude. So many mornings, I woke up not especially happy about being alive. It was difficult to get out of bed. But something small like the song of a bird or the beauty of a sunrise, I would be grateful for. Gratitude kept the spark of love in my heart alive. This is why I am so grateful, with time, I learned that gratitude banishes bitterness. Gratitude helped me turn a corner in my mind and in my heart and truly helped me heal. Gratitude was a precursor to prayer and helped me shift my focus from darkness to heaven. This is my goal. Heaven is my goal. Love is forever and I will see Ed again.
Are you at this crossroads too? The turning point between growth and decay. If you feel that you could use an attitude adjustment, start small. Pick something every morning and say, I am grateful for this. Try not to pick exactly the same thing every day. We live in a vast world, try to look around and say, this is why I am grateful today. Begin to seek out the beautiful and good and you will find it. Ask God to help you. He will.
Now you know why I am grateful. I have decided to share with you something which I am grateful for every week. I hope you will share with me what you are grateful for too!