Despite having Positivity as one of my Strengths, I am undoubtedly a pessimist and a bit of a skeptic. So, the glass is half empty and why would it be anything but half empty? I know this sounds confusing, but if you knew me in person, (I think) it would make sense.
In my last season of life, I really learned how to express what I was feeling. Prior to, I tended to stew and bubble. Some days, I still just like to stew and bubble. As I’ve gotten to know myself better, I can recognize what hurts me and can use my words to describe why it’s so painful for me. On the whole, it has been a very freeing experience. It’s helped break down some of the walls I’ve had in relating with family, friends, and even God. So, hooray for expressing my feelings (see, there’s the positivity eking out)!
There are occasions though, when I go into my feelings and I seem to fall into some despair.
Nothing will ever change.
Life always turns out this way.
Especially in the last year when I’ve hit these pockets of despair, I’ve felt God call me to name what I’m grateful for. It’s always a bit shocking initially. The call to gratitude causes me to pause and reflect.
I usually begin with the basics:
I have all my immediate physical needs provided for (house, clothing, food). There are many in this world who go without one or several of these needs.
I have a job. Even just considering those in the U.S., many have lost jobs in the last few years with the economic downturn.
I have a family who loves me. Again, many people are born into families where they are despised, abused or mistreated. My family is not perfect, but I know without a doubt that they love me.
My friends. It has been a lonely year for me (some of that has been circumstantial), yet I still have many friends who care for me. At this point, I usually begin to reflect on my close friends and what a gift they have been to me.
I have so many opportunities afforded me due to the time in which I live. If I was a woman born even 100 years ago, my options would be incredibly limited. Marriage, nursing or teaching. I’m grateful that God has placed me in a time where I have more expansive possibilities.
My God. When I was content to keep living a “normal” life, God has numerous times stepped in and taken me on journeys I never could have imagined. I am so grateful that his vision for my life is always larger than my own.
The more I name what I’m grateful for, the more I find I have to be thankful for. It doesn’t negate the pain I feel, but it gives perspective to the despair. The pain doesn’t feel as final. My vision is widened to see both the sadness and the hope. I come back to a place where I see that God can use both pain and joy as he forms me.
I hate thank you hands. You know, the motion one makes with her hands together, almost as if she is praying, usually accompanied by a tiny half bow. Celebrities love to do this when receiving standing ovations. Or in yoga class, it’s the motion they make when they say “Namaste.”
Thank you hands makes me want to vomit.
I suppose, this post is my thank you hands to God. Except, hopefully, not so trite. To thank him for hope in the midst of my life and the creative ways in which he leads me.