fighting gratitude

fighting gratitude

So, I have been noticing how everyone is thankful this month. And that’s not surprising because it’s going to be Thanksgiving.

Everyone’s internet personas are posting all kinds of gratitude all over the social media and I have been silent.

And I almost felt guilty and then I felt like, “Well, what if people see my silence and think that I am an ungrateful person?”

And then I thought maybe that was silly because my internet persona is not all of me–it’s only a part of me. (Maybe the ungrateful part?)

And then I tried to go and type up something about being thankful. And I just froze as my fingers went to touch my keyboard.

And then I thought, “What is going on with me? Of course I am grateful! And if I can’t think of anything myself, all I have to do is look on Facebook and choose from a plethora of ideas! It’s not hard. Why am I not whipping up 1001 Gifts or something?”

And then, I must admit to you, my dear readers, that at that point I decided to engage in the illicit activity of eating Milk Duds.

The Chocolatey Caramel Painful Deliciousness..

The Chocolatey Caramel Painful Deliciousness..

And then, my teeth hurt because I am old and old people shouldn’t eat Milk Duds.

And then I felt sluggish and gross because of the corn syrup because I haven’t had corn syrup in about five years.

Where was I? Oh, yes, gratitude.

I wondered why I was being gratitude shy. Why wasn’t I sharing publicly why I am grateful? And I realized two things about myself.

Our Bishop's Daughter, In the Wake of the Typhoon. Now, That's Gratitude Written All Over Their Beautiful Faces!

Our Bishop’s Daughter, In the Wake of the Typhoon. Now, That’s Gratitude Written All Over Their Beautiful Faces! (She was being carried because her feet were so blistered she couldn’t walk. Made me cry.)

First of all, I just thought some of the things I was grateful for were so, well “first world.” Here I was looking at the genuine suffering of people in the Phillipines after a typhoon and feeling like me saying, “I’m grateful for….,” just felt disingenuous. Those people don’t have anything, and when they are saying, “I am grateful for the clothes on my back,” it was so heartrendingly true–compared to that, I sounded, well, shallow and almost fraudulent.

I wanted to fix it. I really did.

I needed to fix it.

After all, gratitude is what has gotten me through all of this whole SMeE thing, and through a lot of other stuff. And gratitude makes me feel happy, and I know it makes Heaven happy, so everyone wins.

So, in pondering what in the world was going on inside Planet Misty, I learned the second thing about myself.

I needed to ascend to a higher level of gratitude.

Maybe that sounds mystical or something. But, whatever it sounds like, it was true.

I realized that I was having a fight with my gratitude, because, after years of noting my blessings, and thanking God for them, and really being aware of them, and sometimes even trying to be a generally better person because of them, it was no longer enough.

Thankful

Thankful

I knew I was having an issue when I would say my prayers and the oft repeated, “I thank thee for this day,” was like lead on my lips. I struggled to even say it. I could feel a fight within me, and I realized that I was in the same boat as Dallin H. Oaks.

(Yes, I was in the same boat as Elder Oaks for approximately five minutes. I felt pretty spiritual.)

I will let him explain:

A few years ago I showed one of my senior brethren a talk I had prepared for future delivery. He returned it with a stimulating two-word comment: “Therefore, what?” The talk was incomplete because it omitted a vital element: what a listener should do. I had failed to follow the example of King Benjamin, who concluded an important message by saying, “And now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them” (Mosiah 4:10).

For many months we have studied the lives and accomplishments of our pioneers, early and modern. We have thrilled to some modern reenactments, in which many have been blessed to participate. I was humbled to walk in the footsteps and wagon trails of my 31 pioneer ancestors….

You may be wondering how this could make he and I in the same boat. After all, my ancestors consist of alleged pirates and not a few questionable characters.

You know, I realized that for years I have studied gratitude and its effect in my life. I have thrilled and been blessed and been humbled as I have acknowledged my many, many blessings, both terrible and beautiful, and some beautifully terrible. Elder Oaks continues:

Now after all these studies and activities, it is appropriate to ask ourselves, “Therefore, what?” Are these pioneer celebrations academic, merely increasing our fund of experiences and knowledge? Or will they have a profound impact on how we live our lives?

Now, Heaven was pushing me out of my comfort zone and gently prodding me to the next part of my journey.

Therefore, what?

The words stung and pricked my heart. I struggled and fought and, there were tears. There were a few more Milk Duds involved. It was difficult and I am a prideful and somewhat stubborn sassy pants. I didn’t want to have to ascend to the next state of gratefulness.

I am not a monk or a kung fu master or a prophet or a pioneer. (Although my husband is a ninja!)

I am just me.

At some point I ran out of Milk Duds and had to face the reality that if I wanted to progress any further spiritually, I was going to have to do something more about my gratefulness. And I didn’t know if I was willing to do that.

After all, sometimes, when I wake up in the morning and I can’t walk and I am doing lamaze breathing through the pain, and the children are all committing acts of treason and running amuck, it takes all the willpower and gratitude and strength and courage I have to mean it when I say I am thankful for this day.

And then I realized that I was already beginning the path of ascension. Like a powerful ninja or something.

Me, Like A Powerful Ninja, Right?

Me, Like A Powerful Ninja, Right? (I’m The One In Blue)

I couldn’t say I was thankful for this day without realizing there was a responsibility that went along with saying those words and meaning them. If I truly was thankful for this day, then what was I going to do about it? I realized my hesitation was because I was actually concerned about what it really meant to be thankful.

If I am thankful for my husband, what am I going to do about it?

I am grateful for my kids, therefore, what?

I feel gratitude that I live in a beautiful home far from most of the terrors of the world–what will I do about it?

Specifically. Not generally, like “Well, I’ll just “like” and “share” some uplifting videos on Facebook, and pin some inspiring quotes on Pinterest. No. I know I need to be specific and I have to act.

It has caused me to be really, well, quiet this November. Because when I let Heaven know I am grateful, I have to listen afteward. I can’t just say, “I am thankful for this food and our home and our abundance, amen,” and then Netflix an episode of _________. I have to listen.

Those of you who have been with me a long time know that I have spiritual ADD, and so this listening part has been difficult. Because I don’t feel right about talking about my blessings without knowing what Heavenly Father wants me to do about it.

But, when I listen and I wait, He always answers me. And then, I feel something profound. It reaches into my soul, into the deepest parts where my best self is, and every time, one more small little fragment of my best self starts to surface, and I know what I am supposed to do.

thankfulme

Bringing Up The Best Parts

And it isn’t always necessarily logically related. Sometimes, when I say I am grateful for my home, I feel like taking extra good care of it, which would be logical. But sometimes, the answer is “Go talk to your sixteen year old and give him your time and love right now,” because being grateful really is just turning my heart to the God who has given me all things, and submitting my will to Him, and sometimes, His plans make no sense to me.

Sometimes it’s, “Then be at peace with your physical limitations right now. Be patient.”

My favorite is when the answer is, “Give John a kiss,” (I love John!), because it’s, well, fun. And pretty easy most of the time.

Unless he’s just had kimchee or something.

So, if you are noticing an absence of thankful related posts from me, I hope you will understand. It’s not ingratitude. It’s just that I’ve grown up a little. Most of you have probably known this for quite some time, but it was a revelation to me.

And I am thankful for it.

12 Comments

  1. I love that thought- to go and DO something to show our gratitude. I’m going to keep that in mind. I love how you wrote about submitting our will to God and by doing so, we’d show our gratitude. Love it!

    Reply
  2. YES!! I love this. And, why have I not hopped over here before? So great! I tend to not want to participate in those FB things because they don’t feel genuine to me personally. I don’t fault others for wanting to do them, but I think gratitude is a spiritual thing (like you so eloquently said) and is between ourselves and Heavenly Father. Not to say we can’t express public gratitude too, but just that it’s maybe more special to do it quietly. And, yes, it is my experience that no matter what you do, others will judge you for it. So, be your own person, and embrace it! Which, it sounds like you are. ;) Great post!!

    Reply
  3. And, BTW, your blog is adorable!!! :)

    Reply
  4. Beautifully said. Thank you, sweet friend!

    Love,
    Rachel

    Reply
  5. I had to read this post two different times because it was so profound! (I especially appreciated the Milk Duds references.) But really, you have a way of just hitting the nail right on the head! Your ruthless honesty is so refreshing, too.

    Anyhow, this post reminded me of a Fast and Testimony meeting a few years go. We had blessed a baby that day, and had a dear neighbor of another faith sitting on the pew with us. Consequently, I was listening to each testimony as if through my friend’s ears, wondering what she thought about it all. Many beautiful testimonies were borne, and they were strong professions of faith in and knowledge of various doctrines. But something was missing. And then a young father got up and added the “Wherefore, why?” He added his own testimony and then proceeded to eloquently illustrate WHY his faith in God and the restored Gospel blessed his life. It was like a light bulb went on in my head. It’s all fine and good to believe in Christ, but what does that belief do for us, and how does it change us? I’ll ever forget that man’s testimony, although I can’t really recall a single word!

    So, maybe no one else will see the correlation of your post and that experience, but it made sense to me! And I’m now adopting “Wherefore, why?” as my new motto!

    I can’t tell you how much your blog has impacted me these past few weeks–and I’m not trying to flatter. I just want you to know that you have been the means of answering some prayers of mine lately, so thank you! And happy Thansgiving!

    Reply
  6. Oh, my! Apparently I need to read your post a third time, since I misquoted the main quote, “Therefore, WHAT?”! I need more sleep. :)

    Reply
  7. I’ve had this thought process running through my head, too. It is empowering, in a way. Thank you for spelling it out!
    PS: Milk Duds are my movie theater treat.

    Reply
  8. Love your thoughts, Misty. I don’t know if this correlates or not, but the thought of Black Friday and all the comercialism approaching has felt especially distasteful this year in the wake of the suffering in the Phillipines. It just seems so disrespectful somehow. Why are we spending ludicrous amounts of money when there are people with real human needs going unmet? It makes my heart ache, and yet…I’m not sure what to do about it beyond donating money and praying…so in a way, I can relate.

    Reply
  9. This is what I love about you Misty. This is what we have in common, though I am about 5-10 years behind you (not in actual age, I think we are pretty close in age actually, but in spiritual age). You are a Deep Thinker. This is why, though I’ve given up on a lot of blogs, I haven’t given up on yours. You always take what is normal and popular and good even and look closer and think deeper. You are actively trying to make those moves from good to better to best. I had an ouch moment with your “netflixing an episode of whatever” comment. When I have small babies I really tend to rely on tv to get me through endless feedings and holdings (which for me mostly means I can’t get ANYTHING done) I always have to actively pull out of it and try to find other ways to deal with the depression/boredom/stir-craziness that, for me, comes with small babies (don’t judge please! there is also joy and love and adorableness). Anyway, I’ve been feeling it’s time to work on that more proactively, ie: watch less netflix :). Thanks again for always making me think deeper and helping me feel that I’m not the only one out there! Now, everybody hold on to your hats. Right about the time the gratitude postings end, the endless “look at my adorable Elf on the Shelf pics!” start up. Sigh. Why am I on Facebook again?

    Reply
  10. Thanks Misty! I tried to do the grateful post thing earlier in the month and wondered why I lost interest, why it felt fake to me. I’ve wondered too if there was something wrong with me. I didn’t take time to sort it out like you did, and maybe my answer for my gratitude posting apathy wouldn’t be the same. Still, I love what you discovered. I love the way you think and the way your thoughts give me something to think about. Thanks for not writing that gratitude post. Thanks for ascending and taking me along for the ride.

    Reply
  11. I am grateful for this blog post. The picture of your bishop’s daughter answered a prayer of mine (not to mention all the wonderful written wisdom). Thank You.

    Reply
  12. Can I just say, I love reading everyone’s comments to your thoughts Misty. Your dialog and the comments that follow are so refreshing and thoughtful. I don’t think I have ever gone back to blog posts just to read the comments and thoughts like I do here.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>