I’m slowly learning to think differently about gratitude.
When I was a kid, I was grateful for all of the good things in my life. Gratitude was my response to unexpected trips to the beach, staying up late or going out to eat. I had a lot to be grateful for as a kid and thankfulness came pretty easily. But as I got older, life started to get harder. Carefree summer days were replaced with summer jobs. School got harder, there was pressure to get into college and there was pressure to pay for college. All of the sudden, the world seemed to offer me less and demanded more from me.
I needed to rethink gratitude. So, I figured out how to become grateful in spite of hard things. I decided I wanted to be a glass half full kind of a guy and focus on the good things happening in my life. So, I would deal with break-ups, financial uncertainty and rouge friends. I was determined not to let the pain of life take away my gratitude for the good things in life.
The older I get and the longer I walk with Jesus, the more I’m learning to be grateful for hard things. I’m figuring out the road to the best things in life requires risk, sacrifice, suffering and faith. It’s the hard things that become the best things. That’s the story of 2015 for our family – Aidan’s birth, the church’s growth and fresh insights into marriage, family and Jesus. None of them came easy. All of them required stretching, believing and sacrificing more than I wanted. But they are so worth it.
I don’t know that I’m fully there yet – I still get pretty frustrated when things don’t go my way. But I’m learning what grown-up gratitude looks like.
It’s not just thankfulness for the good things.
It’s not even thankfulness in spite of hard things.
It’s thankfulness for the hard things.
Now the trick is remembering that the next time life gets hard.