One of my favorite times of year is November around Thanksgiving when we think of all we’re grateful for. I like to state one thing I’m grateful for every day of the month. What starts out as something simple ends up being so many things for me. I love that it sets me in the mood for the whole Thanksgiving/Christmas season. I have found that it is much easier to be grateful when others around me are stating what they are thankful for.
In contrast, it is also very easy to be “misled” as 1 Corinthians 15:33 states. “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” That being said, I have also noticed that when I am around people who are complaining constantly or are ungrateful, it is very easy to begin to pick out the faults of others. This causes uneasiness, frustration, and kicks love right out the door. It is so contagious that if I am grumpy and discontent, I can watch my whole household fall apart within minutes.
The Apostle Paul described our day to Timothy when he wrote that in the last days. “men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” (2 Timothy ) These sins are fellow travelers, and ingratitude makes one susceptible to all of them. Here’s a fun poem I found that goes with what I’m trying to say…
The Grumble Family
There’s a family nobody likes to meet;
They live, it is said, on Complaining Street
In the city of Never-Are-Satisfied,
The River of Discontent beside.
They growl at that and they growl at this;
Whatever comes, there is something amiss;
And whether their station be high or humble,
They are all known by the name of Grumble.
The weather is always too hot or cold;
Summer and winter alike they scold.
Nothing goes right with the folks you meet
Down on that gloomy Complaining Street.
They growl at the rain and they growl at the sun;
In fact, their growling is never done.
And if everything pleased them, there isn’t a doubt
They’d growl that they’d nothing to grumble about!
But the queerest thing is that not one of the same
Can be brought to acknowledge his family name;
For never a Grumbler will own that he
Is connected with it at all, you see.
The worst thing is that if anyone stays
Among them too long, he will learn their ways;
And before he dreams of the terrible jumble
He’s adopted into the family of Grumble.
And so it were wisest to keep our feet
From wandering into Complaining Street;
And never to growl, whatever we do,
Lest we be mistaken for Grumblers, too.
If there’s one main thing that I have heard about the news or social media, it is how much complaining and negativity is out there. It can really bring a person down and makes one want to become a hermit.
In Matthew 5:14-16, we are called to bring others up. It says, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
The verses before that call us the salt of the earth. We are the flavor. We can make this world interesting. In Deuteronomy and 1 Peter, God calls his people a “peculiar people.” We are to stand out in a good way because we are different. How can we be that light for others while trying not to be sucked in by negativity?
You cannot shine light that you do not have. If what is going on around us is “just adding to the noise,” we need to find a place of solace and spend time alone in prayer and scripture study. We need a time out.
And along that note, We need to remember that we will have moments where we will feel sadness, grief, anger, and frustration. Many label these emotions as bad and happiness, joy, and contentment as the only good ones. As the wife of a counselor, if you have this mindset, I am encouraged to have you watch the new movie “Inside Out.” Our emotions were given to us by Heavenly Father. Jesus felt those same emotions while on this earth. He was a man of many sorrows and it was recorded that He had taken a few time-outs with His Heavenly Father.
It’s okay to vent to someone that you trust to lead you back to Heavenly Father and His plan for you, who does not gossip, or mislead you. It’s even okay to be honest and say that you are not okay. In fact, not talking about it can cause worse problems.
Having gratitude does not mean that we do not feel sorrow. But it is the attitude in which we accept our circumstances or even in how we love others that determines our outcome.
I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome that affects everything in my body. I’ve had severe problems from it where I couldn’t get out of bed for months, severe allergies, severe pain, joints popping out of place, easy ruptures and skin tears, and recently extreme fatigue and dizziness. I cannot say in all truthfulness that I am grateful to have a mutation that not only affects me, but others around me including my children who have inherited it. I have had days where I have been frustrated, angry at my inabilities, and mourned better days. And yet, I have hope.
#1) We all have bad days, but I am grateful that this life isn’t it. Jesus, after talking about his crucifixion, promises in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
#2) I am grateful for good days. If we didn’t taste the bitter, we would not know the sweet.
#3) I am grateful that I can receive comfort from the Spirit and the Scriptures of those who have gone before me.
#4) I have also been blessed with wonderful friends who listen, encourage, pray for, help, and inspire me. It would be boring if we didn’t have problems to help each other with
#5) I can pray for answers, seek for them, and He will answer me. I have learned so much from every trial that I have gone through. I am very grateful for that knowledge.
I cling to the scripture Romans 8:28. No matter what, I know God can work it out for good. The Apostle Paul was often in bonds and imprisoned, but in all, he learned to be content and make the best of it.
I have been blessed immeasurably by being grateful. I used to be a suicidal, masochistic, and extremely depressed person, with anxiety that hurt my stomach internally. I have fought so hard to concentrate on God’s Word, His Promises, and on being grateful for those encouraging words. This mindset of being grateful has also helped me to WANT to feel better physically. It has given me the encouragement that I needed to Press On.
I also feel, that I have been blessed physically with so many material things given to me that I did not necessarily ask for, but have made me feel even more blessed. I am blessed with family and friends that I know for a fact would not want to be around me if I were the person I used to be. I am overwhelmed with blessings.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate 5 points about Gratitude
- God commands us to be grateful for our benefit.
- Complaining is the opposite of faith and trust in God. Complaining shows our ungrateful heart.
- However, We all need a time of grieving, a need to vent to the right person, and even a need to be set straight.
- We can have a continual attitude of gratitude and ask, “What can I learn from this circumstance to be more like Jesus?”
- God wants to bless us more when we are grateful for what we have and Trust Him for what we don’t.
I’m thankful for an amazing mother who not only listens to me when I need to vent, but gives me another perspective and leads me back to becoming more like my Savior with a grateful heart. If you don’t have someone that can do that for you, please pray to find that person. I know God wants that for you, as well. We were not meant to be alone. I’m grateful that I have listened to the Spirit and focused on being grateful for the little things in my marriage, and that because of all the counseling that we experienced the first 10 years of our marriage, my husband felt compelled to counsel others as the Savior would… and how amazing that is! I’m grateful for my beautiful family and for the chance to go through this life together learning to love, understand, and encourage each other. And I know I said this before, but I’m grateful for my Heavenly Father who is always there for me and my wonderful Savior who led the way by example, so that I can be more like Him which isn’t easy, but so worth it.