Monday, January 16, 2012

Nothing Changes... Yet Everything Changes...

Are you grateful for your life just as God has ordered it?

Sure, of course, I'm grateful. Right?

But am I really?

What if my family were taken away from me? Would I be grateful for the time I had with them?

What if my good health were removed? Would I be grateful for the relationships and tangible blessings still in my life?

You see, I've been thinking about gratefulness lately because I spent quite a few months this past year ungrateful and downright angry.

Yes, I'm not proud to say this, but I have to be honest. I was inwardly railing on God for things He allowed into my life this year. 

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! (Isa. 45:9)

I'll explain. I've never been a mom. For whatever reason, God never allowed me to give birth to my own baby. This, for years, was a source of pain to me. I would inwardly and later privately weep when I was caught in a group of women chatting merrily about childbirth and rearing children. I just could not understand why God had kept this from me when I desired children so much, having chosen names for three children when I was yet a very young adult. Actually as a teen, I had chosen one of these names, and it had never changed in my mind.

So, fast-forward to January 2011. One year ago. 

After a long road, I felt I finally worked through the emotions of never having my own baby, and actually began seeing some of the reasons why God had chosen not to give me a child of my own. I literally felt it leave my emotional plate, and I began to settle into married life, just enjoying the freedom of being a couple.

Then with one phone call, everything changed. Suddenly we had a little two-year-old full-time... in the middle of potty training! And I went from wife to full-time caregiver... actually parenting.

Well, I didn't appreciate it. After all, this isn't on my terms, God! 

This is a selfish statement, but I have heard it from other parents as well: 
I felt that all my freedom was taken. 

I once enjoyed hopping in the car and going to town whenever I liked. Now I have to work around morning and afternoon naps, and when I do go, I have to buckle-in-buckle-out a little tot at every stop. Every errand takes twice as long. I was not used to that.

And so, though I'm not proud of this, I admit I became angry and bitter.

This isn't fair!

Thankfully, God in mercy kept me from taking the anger out on this precious child, though I am not so naive to believe that she remained completely unaffected by my spirit of anger, and that saddens me!

Doest thou well to be angry? ~ God asked Jonah (Jonah 4:4)

After the dust settled from my ranting (when I actually became exhausted in my anger), God began to show me the blessing in the midst of the unpleasant. God, Who works all things together for good to those who love Him--for His purpose, not ours--began showing me the beautiful: His purpose.

Christ is the model upon which the Father is developing your life...   
(Henry Blackaby)

Every event that God allows into my life is for His purpose: conforming me to the image of His dear Son Jesus. That's what the verse after Romans 8:28 says. His purpose isn't some pie-in-the-sky idea that I can just back burner if I truly love Him. When you love someone, you want what they want. And God wants to make me like Jesus.

What does all this have to do with being grateful?

By God's patience and grace, I am learning that this is a mindset. I do not mean fake. I mean a choice. The Apostle Paul wrote to the  Colossians, "Set your affection on things above." (Col. 3:2)

On a side note: It saddens me also that with my affections set on getting my own way and reclaiming what I perceived to be my own freedom, I made things hard on my husband as well. We have all heard the phrase, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" We women do set the climate in our homes, like it or not. (Check out Courtney's convicting blog on being a porcupine wife!)

Choosing to be grateful for the good--embracing the good--causes the nasty somehow to become less so. God began to show me the beautiful in this situation when I chose gratefulness.

Once I chose to be grateful in this situation--to focus on the good, to embrace the beautiful, God-given opportunity--my emotions (eventually) no longer felt angry, resentful, bitter, and vindictive. I began to see that God, for an indefinite period, has given me a little girl to dress in frillies and do her hair, just as I dreamed. And I began to enjoy things again... things that I used to enjoy but I quit doing, because I thought I no longer enjoyed these activities. I began to actually enjoy the daily tasks of caring for a child, as well as daily household chores I thought I hated! Resentment is a horrible thief.

It's a daily choice: Gratefulness... Nothing changes... Yet everything changes!


  1. You are so right about being grateful in EVERY situation. My hubby hates the natural ease that I have to put a positive spin on almost everything. But in my grateful mindset, and in SPEAKING, and SHARING it it has started to rub off, I catch him remebering he has much to be grateful for also. God has so much in store for him, he needs to get by the grumbling of every day stuff, ANY day stuff! Thank you for the great blog.

  2. Not an easy confession to write. Such admissions, I've found, are usually tested by the tempter. The defense will tighten up after you've made a touchdown. And, sometimes, life seems more like a 10 round boxing match or a 9 inning baseball game than a 4 quarter football game.


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