“Just be thankful.”
That was my husband’s gentle reminder that there was a lot to be grateful for in the midst of a recent little thunderclap of life.
This time, the storm in question was the hot water heater going out last week.
Lamar’s words were in response to my frustrated rant.
“I’d really like it if things would be peaceful and calm and not some crisis for a while. It’s always something. I’d like to just have everything go right — is that too much to ask?”
Lamar listened, like he always does, then gently said, “Just be thankful.”
“I am thankful, Lamar. I am. But you know as well as I do, it would be nice to not have to deal with something for a change.”
He nodded. “We’ve got a lot to be thankful for though.”
I sighed again. “I know that.”
And, I do.
As we head into Thanksgiving celebrations this week, it’s a time for people to pause and reflect for all they’re thankful for, and I do try to practice gratitude daily. Some days, particularly lately, it’s been increasingly harder to find those things I’m thankful for.
It has felt like there has been one crisis, one heartbreak, one nightmare after another recently.
Being told to just be thankful, even when it comes from someone with no ill intent like my husband, usually riles me every so slightly.
I am thankful, dangit.
It made me feel as if he was calling me ungrateful by telling me to just be thankful.
But there is something so simplistic, yet profound, in the act of gratitude.
By being thankful, I am not focusing on what I don’t have, but rather what I do.
Some of the things I have maybe fussed about recently were things I prayed for years ago.
I’ve often wondered how that sits with the Big Guy in the sky; I beg, plead, negotiate for things, only to get them and proceed to fuss endlessly.
I wonder how often we do that — pray for things, want our situations to change, and then when they do, we still aren’t happy and complain.
Knowing how guilty I am of that, it made me pause and wonder. I’ve prayed to get certain jobs in the past, then when they were not exactly how I expected them to be, I complained.
I’ve wanted a certain vehicle — nothing fancy, mind you; I could care less about what I drive — and hated it after I got it. Hated the monthly payment, hated how it didn’t drive as smoothly as I wanted it to, even though when I got it, I cheerfully said, “I’ve wanted one of these for years!”
Lamar’s gentle admonition reminded me that even in the midst of those pain points, there can be so much to be thankful for.
I was frustrated about needing a new hot water heater; but thankful that we could get one and that the plumber could come out that afternoon to replace it. I was thankful that while they were here, they also saw another pipe that needed fixing and took care of that, too.
My patience had been worn thin by trying to help Mama deal with some people — not by her, but by the fact the people were being downright unhelpful and rude. Despite my aggravation, I was glad I was able to help her.
There’s always dishes to wash and something to clean, but that means we’ve got food to eat and we’re all home.
I know, too, that things can be so different and change in the blink of an eye. That point has knocked the wind out of me within the last few months.
Despite knowing all of this, those moments of ill content still creep in. It’s not a matter of taking anything for granted; I definitely appreciate all I have.
It’s just a simple matter of sometimes, life can happen and make us take our eyes off all the things we’re grateful for, and make it hard to see what all we have, just as quickly as it can take those things away.
Maybe the beauty of this week is to help us slow down and focus on that gratitude for all we have. The family, the love, and all the craziness that gets thrown our way. And an opportunity in the words of my normally quiet husband, to just be thankful.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.