Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grateful Heart

via homegrown hospitality

I would consider myself an optimist.  I'm a generally happy person and usually have no problem looking for the good or seeing the glass as half full.  Lately I've found myself a bit unsettled- a bit of anxiety, lack of optimism, and lack of faith all rolled into one.
Almost two years ago my life turned upside down after my dad's stroke.  Although I can look back and see the little things whispering to me of such a big change to come, it still felt like something I was completely unprepared for- a total sucker punch.  We made it through and I learned amazing lessons and came out better on the other side and am truly better because of it, but I've realized it's also left me a bit more doubting (totally ironic considering the increase of faith I experienced at the same time).  The more time that passes since that event, the more I find myself feeling anxious waiting for the next big thing.  Every small challenge is suddenly multiplied in my head into the worst possible scenarios.  I am constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, certain that life can't remain good for this long without another personal tragedy surfacing.  
Writing this makes me even more aware of how crazy I sound.  I know a million responses I'd give to a friend who was experiencing those feelings.  So in case you may be experiencing any or all of the above, here's my pep talk to myself.
The answer to overcome all of this stress is gratitude.  If I can focus on my blessings, it will help me to see the good and to feel the love of God.  If I can feel His love, I can feel peace and overcome the doubt and anxiety that so readily creeps in.  There is such a paradox here for me.  I know that adversity is a blessing.  I don't doubt the gifts that come when we endure great suffering, and I feel grateful for those opportunities, as difficult as they've been, which have drawn me closer to my Savior and to my Heavenly Father.  But in my current state of waiting for those trials, I am neglecting to be grateful for the sunshine They give, as well as the rain.  It feels so silly and ironic and just plain sad that I can't seem to embrace the good days and be grateful for them. and instead I waste time worrying about the bad that I assume must be coming.  Trials are sure to come at some point- we all endure them- but sitting around waiting for them isn't going to change the outcome when they arrive.  The only thing I'm wasting is my time and energy and plenty of perfectly great days to be grateful for. 

I've got work to do.  I've got to increase my faith to replace this fear that comes so easily right now.  I've got to nurture my feelings of gratitude to crowd out the craziness.  

Tonight I turned on one of my favorite Thanksgiving messages created a couple of years ago (take a minute to watch it below).  I've watched it probably 100 times with my kids or by myself.  My favorite part?  The part when Dallin Oaks says, "Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality."

There are times when my circumstances are bleak, and there are times when my circumstances are beautiful, but always they are given to me from God.  They are always just what I need for my journey, and they are always a blessing.  I am grateful for that knowledge of the involvement of God in my life.  I am grateful for the current challenge that is helping me to focus on my blessings.  I can always use an extra helping of gratitude.  It makes everything so much better.  


Britley said...

I've felt exactly like that before, so I don't think you're crazy. I think I've even used that phrase--waiting for the other shoe to drop. I sometimes feel like I have been so blessed in my life that there must be some pretty bad stuff coming. I think the last time I felt like that I was pregnant--so maybe there's something to be said for pregnancy hormones and worrying.

But here's the thing I've come to think about it--we might have large challenges, but, in general, regular, normal, everyday life is sometime difficult enough to help us grow. And worrying is about as effective as trying to solve math problems by chewing bubble gum. :) So even though it's sometimes a struggle, I try not to worry. My guess is that just by writing this out it helped you a lot!

Kathryn said...

I'm in the same crazy boat as you, sweetie! I have the same fear/doubt/worry about my life and family. Hugs ...