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Oct 14, 2014

Struggling with Gratitude

"Give thanks in all circumstances", is a bible verse I hold to be true deep in my gut.  Gratitude makes us better people, more aware and humble and present and balanced.  I'm crazy about that - I want to be that.

In general I believe myself to be a fairly grateful person.  At least I try to be.  I feel closest to God in those moments of now-ness and gratitude.  A part of his big picture.

But during trials, when this concept is put to the test, my propensity for gratitude hits a wall.  A great big, poor me, has anyone ever experienced such humiliation/pain/confusion/worry/etc. wall that I cannot move past or knock down until I go through what has become my dysfunctional egotistical process.  I assume most people have their own version of this process, but realistically most of you are likely much more adept at assimilating troubles and quickly putting them into perspective.

My process usually begins with me getting very quiet, regardless of the emotion with which I'm struggling.  Then comes pouting, isolation and obsessing.  And if someone dares speak to me during this time, I lash out with tears or sharp words...sometimes both (and what a treat that is) in what boils down to an adult version of a child's tantrum. So ridiculous and self indulgent.  Many times I'll come to my senses the same day, but sometimes it lingers.

Seriously, it's amazing that Rich can deal with me.

I wonder sometimes if it's a side effect of being an emotional person because, while that often guides me to places of joy and appreciation and love and perspective; it can also careen down weird twisty paths.  Or maybe I'm just an asshole.  It's hard to discern.

For instance on Sunday I sang lead with my band on a beautiful song.  Rehearsals went well and I felt confident.  But during the service I totally bombed the beginning.  My throat was thick and cracking by the time my song came around and, well, I was distractingly bad. I pulled it out at the end, but I was humiliated that I'd let down my band and the congregation.

Anger came first this time and, when I got into my car, I lashed out at God.  "Where were you when I
prayed for you to use me?  How could anyone be moved closer to you through that song when I sounded like a frog?  You abandoned me up there!"  Then I fell comfortably into my process of quiet self deprecation and, later, yelling at poor Rich when he tried to tell me it wasn't so bad.

I came to my senses later, realizing that it was indeed not that big of a deal and that my wounded pride was causing the trouble.  Some Sundays I'm so connected to the Holy Spirit when I'm singing that I'm able to step aside and let him use me.  But this Sunday I just couldn't get out of the way.  God didn't abandon me on stage.  I didn't let him in.

It made me ponder the depth of my faith.  Why is praying not always my knee-jerk reaction to difficulties?  Why do I so often turn inward instead of of upward?  Do I use God more as a rabbit's foot instead of my soul's anchor? What does all this say about my faith?


Obviously I'm not as mature in my convictions as I'd like to be.  People go through horrendous shit with such grace that it astounds me.  And I struggle with a cracking voice?  A difficult boss?  Overloaded monotonous housework?  It's laughable.  Seriously.  

But I'm aware of my ridiculousness and am trying to figure it out.  I need to read my bible more often.  I know that's the first step in working this.  And my friend Jen sent me this video today that reminded me how infinitesimal my crap is in the face of the great goodness that surrounds us all everyday, which also helps.  

Do you struggle with this?  How do you work it?

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