The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.Mary Davis
On more than one occasion this year I have found myself telling people how gratitude changes everything. It can take the pain we experience in this life and open us up to the beauty that can be found in the lessons being learned or the season we are in. And in theory that sounds great, but is it true? The sentiment, like a beautifully packaged cliché, is one we want so desperately to believe, but when life gets hard and heartache is on our doorstep, can gratitude truly change the trajectory of the journey? Is it possible to see the beauty through the pain?
This past year has been difficult for me. Loss has marked my journey in a tremendous way. My father, my uncle, a beloved friend since childhood…all gone. With each passing a piece of my heart crumbled a little more. Yet, through the pain I had a choice to make; I could focus my attention on what was lost or I could be grateful for what was had. I chose the latter and it made all the difference.
When we focus on our gratitude the tide of disappointment goes out, and the tide of love rushes in.Kirsten Armstrong
There are few things I love more than being on the water. There is a indescribable beauty found in the power and the majesty of the sea. It is the place where I feel closest to God. A tangible representation of the vastness of who He is. His character and nature coming alive before my very eyes. Overwhelming, yet approachable. Peaceful and calm, yet fierce and powerful. Breath taking and life giving, yet in complete control. We stand at the shore with no ability to harness the waves or change the tides, but it invites us to partake. To sit in awe of the beauty we see, to use wealth of resources found within it, and submit to the authority it has.
I love the idea of equating gratitude to ocean tides. I can visually see how a grateful heart sweeps disappointment back into the abyss of the sea while love comes rushing in to replace it. What an incredible reminder that we never need to stay in a state of heartache and disappointment. Love is always ready to come rushing in, we simply need a grateful heart to activate it.
When my husband and I lost our good friend Joe in August our hearts were devastated. As childhood friends we shared so much with each other. We grew up together, got in trouble together, cheered each other on, and kept each other in check. Even as life took us down different paths, our differences never outweighed the rare and unique bond of friendship we had. It was hard for me to say “good-bye” to someone who knew me so well, someone who had been so special in my life, someone I never imagined wouldn’t grow old with us. Disappointment most certainly swirled in the heartache of this loss. Yet, love was ready to come crashing in.
I thank my God every time I think of you.Philippians 1:3
Love comes in all different ways but I believe the sweetest is through people. A grateful heart allows us to not focus on who didn’t show up when the journey got hard but rather to be so thankful for those who did. A grateful heart allows us to see not the relationships that have been lost along the way but rather those that have withstood the test of time and even those that emerged as beautiful blessings out of the ashes of pain.
Tonight I sat at a dinner table with Joe’s mom and 15 other people. Some of the friendships at that table went back to when we were school age and others have been newly formed. Out of the mutual heartache of losing one so dear, we all leaned into each other and found joy in the blessings all around us. We found joy in love and laughter and sharing so many memories. We found joy in caring for our friend’s mom. We found joy in simply knowing that Joe would have LOVED seeing us all around a table together. In the pain of loss, we have all found something to be grateful for…Joe and each other.
Be present in all things and thankful for all things.Maya Angelou
Sleep has eluded me tonight because my heart keeps thinking about something Joe’s mom said tonight and has said numerous times in the last few months. “Be good to each other, take care of one another, don’t fight…life is too short not too.” Life is too short not to!!! Life is too short not to…tell the people you love how much they mean to you. Life is too short not to…find time to cultivate new relationships and nurture old ones. Life is to short not to…take care of one another. Life is too short not to…find something to be grateful for every single day. Life is too short not to…allow God to take the disappointments and sweep them out into the sea so that His love can rush over you.
Gratitude reminds me that life is too short to squander the blessing of one single day. Every day that I wake up with breath in my lungs is opportunity for me to find joy in the day the Lord has made. It is an opportunity to see all the little and big ways God blessings are all around me. It is an opportunity to say “I love you” one more time to the people who mean the most to me. It is an opportunity to simply choose joy in every moment.
As I get ready to lay my head down for what will now be just a few moments of sleep I am grateful for words to write what I might not have otherwise said. I am grateful for friendships that are like family. And I am grateful for laughter, it truly is like elixir for the soul. What are you most grateful for? Look for it…I promise, there is always something to be grateful for. Maybe it’s sunshine or coffee, a promotion or new opportunity, a hand to hold or an ear to listen. Whatever it is…simply allow God to open your eyes and you will find it. Life is too short not to.
In memory of my dear friend, Jo Ill Kim.
I am so grateful for all the love, laughter, and memories. I will carry you in my heart forever xoxo