Yes, that’s what I said. Stop talking about gratitude. It seems, sometimes, that gratitude is the new best thing and that all of us are supposed to make long lists of the multitude of things we are grateful for.
The joys of family life
Our fabulous church
And it is quite true that we too easily forget to be mindful and grateful.
But (you knew that “but” was coming) my patience runs short with folks who insist on turning everything into a blessing.
Squirrels emptying out the bird feeder in 3 minutes flat. How amusing to watch.
Precious little feet tracking mud into the house.
The power is out for the third day and we are having wonderful family bonding time in front of the fireplace.
Some days my list would be more along the lines of:
More #*@ snow. But eventually it stops.Right. Please stop. Please.
I remember life before this head cold that won’t leave.
I’m grateful this day is over.
I’m glad they finally left.
It could, I suppose, be worse, maybe.
When I worked as an ER vet, I was known to say, “Every silver lining has a cloud.” To borrow Anne Lamont’s phrase, I am a crabby optimist. * However, usually I see the glass as half full. Really I do.
But I also acknowledge that some days the glass is empty. Some days the glass gets knocked over and spills onto your lap… on your best pair of pants… when you can’t get home to change.
I don’t feel compelled to turn all of life’s events into some sort of blessing or something to be grateful for. It’s just a question of honesty for me. It seems better to just name it and claim it. For me and my family it is better if I just say, “ I’ve had a bad day and I’m in a bad mood and I’m sorry you have to live in the same house with me right now. I’ll be better tomorrow, perhaps (but don’t count on it) even later today.”
I think it’s all right to sing the blues. The Biblical term for that is lament.
By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion. (Psalm 137)
The Psalms are full of lament. And you know, Moses laments. David laments. Job laments. Jesus laments.
Lament is part of being human.
I don’t know about you, but for me it is not a good idea to deny my emotions for too long. I don’t pretend well for very long. I can get out of the store without yelling at the clerk. But I can’t pretend to myself that I’m not angry. I rarely act out my anger but I do need to recognize it and acknowledge it. Then I am able to let my anger go.
If we are persistently sad or angry, something isn’t right and we need to be attentive to that. We need to talk with someone- wise friend, therapist, pastor. Equally, it seems to me, constantly pretending that bad things don’t happen isn’t healthy either.
Life is both horrible and wonderful. Sometimes simultaneously. And all of life, crummy and great, sad and happy, horrible and wonderful, all of it belongs to God.
I’d like to know, what do you think?
* from the very fine and highly recommended book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers