Gratitude Calls for Perspective
If there’s one thing the pandemic has made clear, it’s how badly we need each other.
As I heard one pastor put it recently, God made us in His image, which is why humans crave community. We reflect the original small group: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I saw the truth of that statement the first week of May, at the end of a particularly stressful week.
Deadlines seemed to be crashing upon deadlines, new fires were cropping up before I had a chance to put out old ones, and cash flow seemed more like a trickle.
My countenance had brightened when a check arrived that Thursday. But anticipation turned to disappointment when I saw that it was a payment for only one invoice instead of two.
Coping with Stress
The stress piled up on that Friday afternoon, when I grappled with an unexpected job caused by demands related to something that wasn’t my fault.
To make matters, it was rainy and cold, with weather forecasters warning of the possibility of snow.
Flurries, to be sure, but still . . . in May? Where was the “early spring” the famed Punxsutawney Phil had forecast three months earlier?
Just as I was about to launch an online petition demanding Phil be fired for incompetence, a friend who edits my blogs sent back his comments on one.
His email included a note about being put on a potential evacuation alert 36 hours earlier because of wildfires in northwestern Florida. The blazes destroyed 33 homes and damaged seven others.
Because the fires burned within a couple miles of their home, he and his wife had stayed up late that night.
The next day they were out seeing if they could help folks who had been affected by the disaster.
“One of the 30-plus families that lost everything was a young couple from church who had been part of one our marriage classes,” he wrote.
“House burned to the ground. He’s deployed overseas right now. She was out of town with family. Sad.”
No sooner had I read those words than I sensed the Holy Spirit whisper, “That rain looks pretty good, doesn’t it?”
Not only was I grateful for the moisture, I appreciated my friend’s words. They served as a reminder how easily I can get bent out of shape over my problems when others are in the midst of something much worse.
This quickly reminded me of what happened years ago, soon after we had moved back to West Virginia from Colorado.
That October had been dry. So dry that the state had banned outdoor burning. By the last week of the month, a smoky haze hung over our city, even though we’re miles from the nearest forest.
Attitude of Gratitude
On the first Monday in November, I awoke to a cold mix of rain and snow. And clear air. For the first time in two weeks, the smoke-filled air was gone.
When I went to work on the fifth floor of an office building, I had just settled in when a woman walked by the door, headed for a beauty salon at the end of the hallway.
“I can’t believe this!” she grumbled as she took off her scarf. “What horrible weather.”
“What?” I thought. “Can’t you be grateful for the smoke being extinguished?”
How ironic that it took my friend’s recent note to remind me that I need to maintain an attitude of gratitude—at all times.