I have fallen into the pit of despair and felt the anger welling up inside me. In our present political climate, it is easy to go down that road of anger and despair. I have become weary of fighting the good fight to help bring mercy and justice to the world I live in. I feel at times that I am fighting an uphill battle and sometimes I feel all alone. However, I know I am not alone, but I also cannot keep banging my head against the wall.
I do not like the person I become when evil takes over, and by evil I mean anger. Sure, sometimes anger is righteous and sometimes it is out of anger that change becomes a reality, but then I remember it was anger that got us here and what we need now are love and understanding.
During these summer months, the congregation I serve is reading the book Grateful, The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass. I like to think of this book as a manual for change in our lives as it is indeed, as the title suggests, transformative.
A recent study focused on the intentionality of gratitude and how we have to seek out those things we need to be grateful for. Bass quotes from Brother David Steindle-Rast, a Benedictine Monk, “Ninety-nine percent of the time we have an opportunity to be grateful for something. We don’t notice it. We go through our days in a daze” (pg 54). We have to be intentional about seeking out those grace-filled God moments and make a note of them.
Since I have started reading the book, I have decided that I was going to make an intentional shift in my thinking and my acting. I am not giving up the fight I am just taking a different perspective on it because the outcome is too important. I am going to be intentional about finding the good, and when there is something to be critical of, I will be critical with facts and not emotions.
However, this being grateful is a habit that needs to be cultivated in our lives. As the quote I used above suggests, we are surrounded by things to be grateful for we need to attentive to what they are. In a recent church service, I suggested these moments might be as simple as all of the lights turning green on our commute to work. They might be small, but they are visible if we see them.
I have never been great with journaling but if that is your thing then keep a list of the things you see to be grateful for. If journaling is not your thing, make mental notes about them. I have noticed several folks who have taken their gratitude to social media, posting each day the things they are grateful for. Whatever works for you is what you need to do, it is not the system we adopt or the techniques we learn just that we do it!
The challenge I gave my congregation is to start today looking for those moments of gratitude. As Bass suggests in her book, gratitude begets gratitude, and slowly our lives will begin to transform and when our lives transform our worldview begins to transform.
Since begging this intentional search I have noticed that my disposition has changed and I am starting to come out of the pit and funk, and I am starting to see the world a little different, and I like what I see.