This post may come across as rather obnoxious, but I don't intend it to do so. It's not a #firstworldproblems bit and it's not a "just think of the starving children" bit. It's a post about letting gratitude frame my experiences and frustrations. It's not about being grateful since other people have it so much worse. It's about counting my blessings before letting the frustrations tear me down.
I'm not sure how many times a day I ask my oldest to speak a little quieter, or how many times I beg the youngest to get down off the (fill in the blank), or how many times I sit on pee drops on the toilet seat, but over the past week I've considered that no matter what small thing comes my way that may result in frustration, simply looking for the blessing first helps bring perspective and patience.
So traffic is just terrible. First I have to be thankful that I have a car, there is gas in the tank and I have places to go. My kids run off in a store? Praise Jesus their legs are healthy and strong and they have the energy to go go go. My son's voice is so loud and he interrupts every single conversation I attempt with any other person than him? Praise God that he lives in a home where he feels safe enough to vocalize his thoughts and ideas and that he's so enthusiastic to learn and share. Yes, my ears still crackle and my teeth vibrate at each overly exerted syllable, but even in that, there is blessing.
This is not easy. I'm currently incredibly annoyed that there are wet snow clothes strewn about the kitchen, my youngest is dragging all the Wii remotes across the floor by their wires and arguing back at me that the wires are tangled when all I want him to do is just put them away and leave them alone. Why can't kids just obey? Why can't there be just five minutes of silence to have a deep thought? When will we be able to have nice things that don't get ruined with kid goo?
Oh Dear Father, may my heart never long for silence so much that it fails to love the people behind the voices! May I never wish away the blessings You have given. May I see the dirt and noise and boogers and accept that these too are being used to make my heart look more like Jesus's and His ability to love through the scales and dirt and sin.
My tendency when life is trucking along at a steady pace is to forget to look for God, and little frustrations can make me so sour. When true struggles and loss come, He powerfully and clearly shows up, and I feel His presence. However when the clouds part and birds sing, that joy of knowing Him and being known by him can quickly erode due to an ingratitude that gives way to entitlement that explodes into impatience and hardness.
My kids aren't perfect, and I am by no means a perfect mom. I find that some days there is far more correction and nagging when there needs to be a bit more gratitude. Some days I have to pause in the midst of chaos to tell my child to look at me and then tell him that I love him. And then I get this in return - my three-year-old's "sweet face" - which is absolutely amazing.