We have a practice with our kids that when they are stuck in a complaining-only mode- we make them say a certain number of things they are thankful for.
You can see my previous post for an example of how magical this can be. It works on my 2 year-old, 4 year-old, 11 year-old, and 12 year-old.
Today I re-realized that it also works on a 30 year-old.
I’ve been sick with the worst cold of my entire memory for seven days and counting. Two days of intense headaches, then two days of repeated fevers, chills, and total non-functional living (I pretty much slept for 36 hours). I started to come out of the fog… but couldn’t breathe for an entire day (until I found the perfect blend of Neti pot, congestion spray, and ibuprofen), a day of face pain, and a day of snot: today. I’ll spare you the details. Other than last night my pinkie toenail fell off…. random! No injury, no infection, just came right off. *sigh*
You can see why I was caught in a mind-cycle of misery. Each day I’ve improved in health… and each day had a new challenge to face. Sometimes when I cough, I also pee. Really? I’d had it.
Something struck my on the drive to my son’s pre-school.
“Corban, you know how I have you say things you’re thankful for when you’re stuck complaining?”
“Mmm-hmmm” came the sweet reply.
“Well, Mommy is stuck complaining and I need to say things I’m thankful for.” He completely understood, of course.
My list began, “I’m so thankful for each of my children- the unique ways that God has made them- and that He would bless my life with them. I’m thankful that today looks like it’s going to be a sunny day. I’m thankful that they’ve found a home for us in Germany- and that it’s better than I could have dared imagine. I’m thankful that I’m not as sick as other much less fortunate people who put me to shame with what they endure. I’m so thankful for my friend Dorina– what a gift to me (and one that I’m not ready to say good-bye to!)”
My list carried on and the tears came.
Picture this… a congested mommy, with a nasal-frog voice listing these gifts… tears falling, voice wavering… getting higher pitched and weepy. Oh, my poor children.
I explained that saying what I was thankful for reminded me of the many good things God has given me… and that makes my heart so happy that tears come out!
He giggled. I’m sure he was thinking, “My mom might be nuts…” but he hid it well.
The amazing thing was that 1) the tears cleared something in my sinuses and I could breathe a little better and 2) I felt better. Not healthier. Lighter. Lifted. An end to the dreariness was in sight because I’d chosen to shift my focus. Ahhhhh, the sweetness of looking at things greater than myself. I may be sick for another 7 days (that’s how long I’m hearing this cold lasts) but so what?! I have SO much to be thankful for and I will not let a stinkin’ cold rob me of all things beautiful!
Yes, gratitude even works on the grown-ups.