My Psalm 84
Life is messy. That is not the first time I have ever said/typed that and it will not be the last. Life is messy. Stuff happens. We plan and organize and do our very best and it turns upside down with everything ending up falling apart. Being spiritual, having faith, can help us see past the mess. It can give us the recipe for making lemonade, lemon meringue pie, lemon tarts out of the spilled lemons in our lives. Much like that delicious lemon pepper grilled chicken that is as delectable warm with roasted veggies or chilled and chopped in a lovely Caesar salad, faith shows the advantage of a little sharpness and sour in our life and provides us a lovely way to digest the day’s events.
Charlie Burke, author of “The Inner Power Emails” maintains that “Success is a skill. Happiness is a skill. Gratitude is a skill. Like all skills, they must be practiced clumsily before they can be done naturally. So, if you’ll devote ten honest days to the practice of feeling true gratitude and happiness, I can promise you a dazzling new skill. A skill that just naturally attracts success like a magnet draws iron. Because nothing attracts good fortune and success like a joyous, grateful heart.”
Mr. Burke has a Gratitude Exercise which Catherine Pratt of http://www.Life-With-Confidence.com describes this way: “For many who take the challenge, this truly is an eye opening experience. You may suddenly realize how many negative thoughts you have during the day or you may discover how many wonderful things are happening to you but you never really gave them a second thought before. This exercise will cause your mind to shift from the negative to the positive. Each day, you will begin to notice the good things because your mind knows that it will need to come up with 10 things to write down later”.
Maybe you are one of those who hated the movie “Pollyanna”. Not surprisingly, it is one of my favorites but I do understand how completely unpopular it is to like it. It is far more “stylish” to act arrogant or as a martyr rather than having the disposition of a clumsy, happy puppy. We can be far more comfortable in our misery than in our gratitude for mundane things because the misery is comfortable. Pain is a much-worn cloak for many people. It happens naturally. Happiness and gratitude are thought processes and, quite frankly, some would prefer not to think.
Recently a good friend of one of my children committed suicide. While it is hard to remember that the act of suicide is really about the pain and ultimate decision to succumb to that pain of the one who has died, it is impossible not to recognize that suicide takes more than just one victim. When a person commits suicide we are forced to deal with its messiness and resulting grief and pain. Gratitude is hard to find in those situations, though it is because we are grateful for the person that we grieve. Often we overlook the happiness of the relationship to focus on our pain instead of allowing our joyous memories and smiles to be our healing balm.
What about those who “live” a suicide? Those people who insist on dwelling on the inevitability of life and its aches and pains and live daily feeling that there is no point in improving their diet, their lifestyle. These people are inflicting the same pain on their loved ones as the person who took their own life; it just seems differently to them because they also are forgetting to look for the daily gratifications and strive to live healthier to achieve more.
Melody Beattie describes what living a life with an attitude for gratitude can do for a someone: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Maybe you had a dreadful childhood. Maybe you witnessed unseen acts of terror. Maybe you find yourself living someone else’s life. There is still room for gratitude. Reviewing the past can be painful but if you are alive to do it, your pain is a testament to your strength and resiliency.
The college student was doubled over with pain and he found himself in the college infirmary for the fourth time. The doctor at home had given up finding a cause and claimed the student was just trying to get out of the academic pressures of college. The campus medical staff looked deeper for a cause of the obviously stress-related ailments the student presented. After spending time with the student, they discovered a great difference in the student and the student’s roommate’s lifestyle choices. Upon reflection, the student admitted feeling perhaps some guilt over possibly being responsible for not giving his roommate adequate support for his choices. Since the roommate visited every day, the doctor pointed out that the roommate obviously cared and felt a deep friendship. The student began to understand that it was a true friendship in spite of their differences and that the roommate’s decisions were his and his alone. Gradually the symptoms began to reside. By focusing on their appreciation for the other, the roommates continued their deep friendship. Their lives played out very differently but their continued friendship and attitude of gratitude is alive today!
Life is not about remembering the past with pain but about gaining strength from it and moving forward. At the end of the day, accept Charlie Burke’s challenge to find ten things you can be grateful about and you will find you will rest better. It might seem hard to start but really it isn’t.
Here are two examples of how I could have thought of things, how I did and some truths about what might seem great but alas, has some messiness. Friend going to Paris in three days: Negative – Darn! I never get to go anywhere. Positive: What great stories she is going to tell and, of course, this is the perfect excuse to have some French fries (I’m trying to avoid fried fast food.) The reality is my friend might have to cancel her trip due to the volcano in Greenland. Fortunately, none of my plans for the upcoming week will be cancelled because we haven’t a volcano in our town! Secondly, we have some powerful storms heading our way. Negative – The dog sometimes has storm anxiety and I just know he will be all over me and not letting me do anything if the storms are too severe. Positive – I won’t have to water (let God pay for the water this month!) the yard and garden and if the dog sits on me, then I can catch up on some reading instead of housework! Reality – We are in a near drought condition but our temperatures are lower than that past week so the rain is needed and most likely will not produce any tornadoes. I won’t have to sweat cutting the yard but neither will I have an excuse to not do inside housework!
Life is not one-dimensional. Even the messiness and most painful things we experience can have positive, lasting benefits. We simply need to admit the messiness and then move forward, appreciating that we can move forward. No matter where it is, how large or how small, with faith and a deep sense of spirituality, our own little resting place we call home, our own life can indeed be lovely.
My Psalm 84
Dear Lord and Father of all,
The good, the bad,
And the ugly that you probably think is gorgeous:
For life’s lessons hard fought,
For life’s experiences bought with pain and gain;
For life…simply life.