Gratitude doesn’t always come easy for me. I appreciate things: the kindness of friends, help from my family. But pausing to feel grateful, deep in my bones, that is trickier.
Some of my anxiety has chosen to nest in gratitude’s rightful home in my heart. I resist feeling happy because I’m afraid of being stuck where I am. Somehow, I came to believe that misery is my only motivator towards growth. When I think of the people who are precious to me, a dark and clutching voice whispers: “Don’t get too comfortable, honey – I can take it all away whenever I choose.”
At times, this has felt insurmountable to me: how can I allow myself to truly feel joy and humbling gratitude when, at any time, the universe could choose to mock my naïveté?
I am seeking to change my experience of all this – my experience of God. I recently participated in a community where love was the driving force. It didn’t matter where we had come from or what we struggled with, we were all greeted with the same love, acceptance, and support. To me, this feels closer to the truth.
This morning, I prayed to be brave enough to trust that there are lessons in joy as well as in struggle. To trust that I will be supported through the hard times, so that I can live boldly, with a life shaped by love and gratitude for what I have in this moment without worrying about the moments to come.
With this shift in perspective, I felt the tears come. Owning this home has been a humbling experience, but it gave me the opportunity to learn to receive. Yes, it was difficult to look around me and realize I could not handle everything alone, but that only loomed so large for me because I felt ashamed about the brown grass in my front yard and what it said about my value.
When I first bought my house, I prayed that it would be a haven for me and anyone else who needed it; I prayed it would foster connection. I had spent so much time focused on my disappointment about my inability to water the grass that I wasn’t able to see a bigger truth: this house has been exactly what I requested. It has shown me that I have family and friends who will help me tear down some questionable fake brick or plant daffodil bulbs and butterfly bushes. It provided a home base for friends moving to Colorado. It has been witness to brave, honest, vulnerable conversations that were the start of incredible changes in me.
When I realized, a few months into home ownership, that I was too afraid to sleep here alone, my dog Bella came into my life. It is expensive and a decent amount of work to care for her, but she supports me. She gets me outside walking every day. She has inspired countless moments of laughter and silliness. She gave me the ability to stay in my home. When I desperately needed help, she appeared.
I am learning that life isn’t as linear and organized as I thought. Maybe you don’t wander through a barren desert until you reach the promised land. Perhaps love and abundance can grow alongside pain and loneliness, and I can choose which ones to water. I suspect I will have to learn this lesson a few times, and I am practicing being gentle with myself about this. For now, I am truly grateful for this insight, born of a desire to turn my face towards the light.
I am grateful for the light.