I also might have been having just a tiny bit of a pity party.
Click here in case you missed out on all that fun.
In the midst of this season tailor made for giving thanks and remembering our many blessings, I let myself get side-tracked and focus on one thing that we seem to be unable to financially make happen - an extended family vacation.
Granted, the point I was trying to make was not that we can't afford a long vacation, but that the high cost of therapy can cause me to question if it's all really worth it sometimes.
As so often happens, I was gently reminded that I might need a little work in the gratitude department.
First, I asked my husband a couple days after I wrote the original post if he thought I was airing our dirty laundry. He reassured me that I made the point but I still kept thinking I sounded a bit ungrateful.
Maybe, just maybe, God was putting those thoughts in my head?
Then, I picked up and started reading an amazing book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts. (It's so amazing that I can't really even find the words to share with you what all is going on in my heart while I read it... maybe one day.)
What's the message of the book? Gratitude.
Ummm.... Hello, God? Are you trying to tell me something?
Finally, just like every Sunday, my husband preached two sermons.
The subject matter? Gratitude.
OK, OK, God. I hear you. I get it.
Gratitude has so much to do with our perspective. With how we choose to look at or respond to certain events in our lives.
Here's what I mean:
My husband is good friends with several other pastors here in Austin, one of which is just a dear, dear man whom I just love.
Last summer, Ryan and this pastor friend, who I'll refer to as K, rode together to a retreat. Since it was just the two of them in the car and Ryan trusts this sweet man implicitly, my husband let down his guard and shared with K something that had been bothering him.
Ryan said, "K, it seems like every time we get a little bit of extra money coming in to the house, it goes right back out for something we hadn't planned on. I do a speaking engagement, we get some extra cash, and then Lana's Tahoe needs new tires and there goes the extra money. I sell a few books, we get some extra cash, and then Lily has an unexpected health issue and there goes the extra money. I emcee an event, we get some extra cash, and then the dishwasher quits working and there goes the extra money. There is never any money to do anything fun - go spend the night in a hotel or let Lana go get a pedicure or whatever."
K looked at Ryan and very thoughtfully and tactfully said, "You know what I thought you were going to say, Ryan? I thought you were going to say - 'Man, we have had so many extra expenses lately. So much stuff happening that we hadn't planned for. Yet every time something comes up, it just so happens that I've got some extra money to cover it. God's really been taking care of us because we've been able to just keep on trucking with that extra money coming in at just the right time.' That's what I thought you were going to say."
If you want to put it that way....
But you know what?
K was exactly right.
We were totally focused on what we couldn't do. And every time extra money came in and went right back out, that list just got longer and longer.
Thanks to K, we made a choice.
We quit looking at our long list of negatives and started thanking God that when we needed new tires or had a health crisis or needed a new dishwasher, there was money to take care of it all. And still eat three meals a day!
A simple perspective shift.
And all of a sudden, we were acutely aware of blessings all around us. Filled with a sense of expectation for the next one. And heaped with gratitude.