My kids are fifteen months apart. All they’ve known is being with each other, occupying the same space, having a constant companion. My daughter’s like my husband — logical, introverted, often craving space to herself so she can read or play unbothered. My son, on the other hand, is like me — affectionate, empathetic, always craving company and someone to play with. When they’re apart, they miss each other, wondering what the other is up to, what things they might be missing out on that the other is doing. They play well and fight well; it’s a can’t-live-with-or-without-each-other situation.
After separate playdates yesterday, I picked them up, and less than five minutes into the car ride home, they start arguing, their tones twisting into whines and their voices rising in volume and sass. I have no patience for this; they’ve been whining since they woke up that morning. So I yell,
“YOU’RE ALREADY FIGHTING?! YOU’VE ONLY BEEN TOGETHER FOR FIVE MINUTES! I’VE HAD ENOUGH TODAY! NO ONE CAN TALK UNTIL WE GET HOME!”
They scrunch their faces at me in frustration, but I don’t relent. We all need a timeout to take a breather, to let our emotions simmer down. Their last whines fade out, and as we drive the rest of the way home in silence, my anger subsides. I recognize my overreaction, and I remember the conversation my husband and I had about how it seems that every podcast or sermon or health tip we listen to these days talks about practicing gratitude.
Am I grateful or do I whine just like the kids do? Am I grateful for them? If they’re gifts from God, how do I practice gratitude when I’ve lost my patience and am beyond annoyed, when I’ve just yelled at them, when they don’t behave as I wish they would?
I check my heart and see the rigidity of my posture. When provoked, I often stand on a soapbox of my own righteousness and lord it over my kids, my finger wagging, my tone condescending. I feel entitled to them conforming to my ways, for them to obey me the first time every single time, for them to play well with each other and be happy and grateful.
Though I do want them to learn to listen, to respect me and each other, my expectations for their behavior is unrealistic. I’m asking for robots instead of children who need grace and reminders. And am I not also a child who needs the same things from the Father?
I’m not that much different than my kids — I also need to try again, to use my words nicely, to say sorry and ask for forgiveness. I get off my soapbox and relax my stance. I look into the rearview mirror and see their faces, obediently quiet. I can tell they’re ready to be silly again, and I’m grateful their spirits haven’t been broken.
Our posture determines our attitude, and I’m understanding more why so many people across the spectrum are talking about practicing gratitude. Gratitude changes our posture, and practicing gratitude means we must slow down our minds and our hearts to remember, recount, and recognize what we have to be grateful for. It helps us to make mental and emotional shifts throughout the day when it’s not going well, and it grounds us and gives us a better perspective.
Today has been much like yesterday, with the same arguments and whining, but my posture is softer, my heart more open. I’m running through the things I’m grateful for, and this is what I know:
I’m thankful for my kids, whom I get to raise and love and who make me proud and make me laugh. I’m thankful for second chances throughout the day, so we don’t have to be stuck in bad attitudes and crabby moods. I’m thankful for my husband, who has started asking us what we’re grateful for at the end of each day, a way to recalibrate and center us back to what’s most important. I’m thankful for the quiet hours of the night when I get to work, for the work I get to do, and for the rest I get to relish at the end of the day.
I’m thankful for the depth yet simplicity of living out our faith and for Jesus who walked the way ahead of us. I’m thankful that we are being constantly broken and reshaped into the mold of Christ. All is grace in Him, and all thanks be to Him.
Gratitude changes our posture, and practicing gratitude means we must slow down our minds and our hearts to remember, recount, and recognize what we have to be grateful for. -@gracepcho: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Pamela Herman says
All thanks be to Him. Amen.
Michele Morin says
Smiling, because isn’t it SO often God uses the things that drive us completely crazy to knock off our rough edges and crooked ways? Once I recover from the jolt, I end up being thankful for the re-calibration of my crooked yard stick. And I’m thankful to be reading this in the early hours so my day can begin with gratitude.
Grace P. Cho says
Totally! Reading your comment this morning is reminding me to take a deep breath in and breathe out any annoyances from the beginning of the day.
Gratitude leads to Worship. Thank You Lord for all you’ve done for us !
I’m grateful today for Jesus and God & the Holy Spirit guiding me through actually at times carrying me through this Masters well tonight at 5pm I handed it in!!! I am done Glory be to God for its his doing!! I’m so grateful to Bev, Michelle and everyone who has prayed over my journey!!! So grateful for incourage and my sisters in Christ. This Aussie living in New Zealand is sending lots of gratitude your way for your support and your prayers and for the sisterhood you provide. So grateful!!
Beth Williams says
I always knew you could write that thesis. I knew God would supply the energy & timing to get it done. Been praying for the internship, thesis & strength to endure it all! Congratulations. I’m proud of you!!
Beth Williams Blessings 🙂
So grateful for your prayers and words of encouragement ❤️❤️❤️ You have no idea how they have motivated me at times, Thank you.
Grace P. Cho says
I love all the love and encouragement you guys give each other! Celebrating you!
Thanks Grace! What a great way to start the week! Reading your words, about centering ourselves in gratitude, puts all my worries and stresses in perspective. Be grateful, be trusting and the Lord will work the day out for the best. Yes!
Beth Williams says
Life down here is hard. It is so easy to get frazzled & snap at the ones you love. All we have to do is go back to them & ask for forgiveness. Explain that we were having a bad day & could they understand. “I love you.” When I get down, depressed or upset I simply get paper or my computer & make a gratitude list. On it is everything from Home in Heaven, Jesus forgives my sins, to paperclips, & everything in between. Usually I can get close to 200 items on it. It puts life in perspective. Makes my problems seem not to bad. Realizing all that we have to be grateful for does change our posture.
Grace P. Cho says
That’s a great practice!
Kathy Cheek ~ First Breath of Morning Devotional says
We have so much to be thankful for because of God’s mercy and goodness, and yet, we can turn on a dime and whine about things, I know I have and then I think of the Israelites during their wilderness journey and all of the complaining they did and I tell myself I want to have a grateful heart, not a complaining heart!
I find that it helps me to start my day with gratitude in conversation with the Lord thanking Him for His many blessings in my life.
Grace P. Cho says
That’s so great, Kathy!
I don’t want to be the whiny girl, but i have to admit that’s me! I tend to look at the bad more than the good, which does nothing but bring me down!!!!!! I go back in my head to the John: 5 verse where god asks the crippled man do YOU want to get well? Getting well for me means letting go of the past hurts, the bitterness i have in my heart for the people that have treated me unkind, i say ive moved on but in truth is, my heart remains bitter, so I’m going to let go , let god Prayer’s needed, thank you.
Grace P. Cho says
Untangling from the roots of bitterness takes time and continued conversation with God and continued forgiveness for those who have hurt you. He is gentle, and His kindness brings you to repentance. I hope you feel the gentle healing of the Lord, Maria!
Amy Harper says
Thank you for sharing! I really needed this!
thankyou !! I was with my kids alllll summer and this week we began homeschooling so I’m over done..needing a break and probably whine more then my kids..ha ha.
I agree with thankfulness. a friend once told me I’m blessed because God sees my heart and I’m thankful for every tiny thing. I never seen it like that but I know being thankful keeps our hearts humble.
something that lacks in the world but keeps us connected to God.