Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TTA: Giving Thanks

This post may end up being a jumble of my thoughts, but I hope it will have a theme of gratitude. I could do a top ten list like Shannon or a daily theme of what I'm grateful for like Leslie or a 100 things I'm grateful for like Brandi. But while I have been touched by each of theirs, I wanted to do my own thing.

On Sunday, the talks at church were on gratitude. One was based on President Monson's talk "Joy in the Journey." He talked about not getting caught up in life and stopping to enjoy the ride. One thing he said was to never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. I've reflected on that a lot over the past couple of weeks. I am so grateful for people in my life who have taken the time to love me. I hope that I show my love and keep my focus on people, not problems or tasks or to-do lists.

I am grateful for my family. I adore my children. There are days, though, when I get aggravated or annoyed or frustrated by the endless tasks associated with being a parent. This quote from President Monson reminded me how fleeting these years are:

"If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly." (I don't think I will ever miss the laundry though!!LOL)

Said one well-known author, Sarah Ban Breathnach: “Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”

During college, I read Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance and I kept a gratitude journal. Every day I would record 5 things I was grateful for. She says that you won't be the same person if you take time to express gratitude for the abundance in your life daily for at least a month. I found that to be true. Gratitude changes our outlook, our attitude, our thoughts for others. Which "secret garden" do I tend?

I wish I could find the exact statistics but a year ago I read something that was along this vein. If you live in a house with more than one room and something else (I don't recall what) you are wealthier than something like 50% of the world's population. If you have flooring (carpet, wood, etc.--not dirt) and glass in your windows, you are among the top 20% of the world's population in wealth. (or perhaps it was the other way around, but you get the picture.) Again I'm not sure of the exact statistics, but this hit me profoundly when I read it a year ago. It is easy to want more and more or to focus on what we don't have. But we are so blessed! 80% of the world has less than we do when it comes to material goods.

And then you add to that the fact that we live in a free country where we are educated, we have the right to vote, we can choose what church to attend (or not to attend at all), we can read what we choose, choose what profession to have, choose who to marry and how many children we will have and on and on. And most of us come from loving families and have never been abused. Most of us have the problem of deciding what to cook for dinner, not how to find food to eat. We live in a country that is (relatively) peaceful where no war has occurred on our soil in a very long time. Where we can change leadership (president, etc.) without any major uprisings or difficulties.

I'm not saying life is easy. We all have our challenges. But we are so lucky to live here and to live now! I know I need to be careful to not take these and many other things for granted.