Depending on who we believe is responsible for the good and perfect things around us, we will either be grateful and appreciative when good things come to us — or we will be demanding that they must come to us.
If we believe that we are the source of “good and perfect” work, we will expect and demand “good and perfect” work from others — and gratitude or appreciation might be absent or extremely infrequent.
If our praise is only ever given to ourselves in this way, and if we stroke our own ego and allow others to do the same (or even demand and expect it) — we will create (inside ourselves) a stagnant pool of dead water where nothing good can live.
If we find that with our family, friends, spouse, coworkers, vendors, customers, or with our circumstances that we are much more often demanding or grumbling rather than appreciative — we probably have an imbalance in our flow that needs correction. But just like water will eventually find its way through a mountain or man made dam that stands in its way, taking intentional steps to “Say thank you more often” or setting ourselves reminders to “be nice” isn’t changing the flow of our stream, it’s just putting things in the way that builds up pressure over time.
If we are not grateful and appreciative towards others, it usually runs in parallel that we are not truly grateful or appreciative for the gifts, talents, health, security, and blessings that we have. Me might have an expectation that we “deserve” them or that we have “earned” them. And while it is very good and healthy to work hard and provide for ourselves and our families — it is detrimental to live in an attitude of demand and expectation, instead of gratitude and appreciation.
But the only victory to be won over this disease of the heart and mind, over this “powerful demon of the spirit realm” comes through surrender. You cannot strive harder to be grateful and somehow “win for yourself” the ability to actually be grateful. Sure, you can get more consistent or frequent in your mimicry of gratitude and appreciation — but that just fosters a greater inner resentment over time towards those our mind tells us “don’t deserve the appreciation we are showing them”, not any real improvement.
Isn’t it clear that we aren’t the source of the air that entered our lungs with each breath even as we slept through the night?
Isn’t it clear that the sun rising this morning consistently to usher in another day this morning did not happen at our beckon call?
Isn’t it clear that the plants and animals that have their lives in order to nourish us today were not architected and manufactured by our own hands weaving their atoms and molecules together in patterns that bring them to life in order that they grow and that even in their deaths, they sustain our lives?
Isn’t it clear that our having traits, abilities and talents in order to provide for ourselves and our families was not something that we ourselves wrote into our own genetic code and fostered and mentored to bring us to our current state in life?
When our eyes are opened to see that there are blessings flowing to us that are not our own doing — it will either offend our ego and we will dismiss this “other source” as foolishness — or we might let it pierce through our heart of stone so that our ego is defeated and that a new wind guides the sails of our vessel.
So I’m not going to give you practical advice of go out today and act grateful and appreciative — because that law might make us even more resentful and bitter and unspecified than we were before.
No, open your eyes and see that God is merciful and that every God and perfect gift comes from Him — and let it change you from the inside out. Amen.
One thought on “Where does it come from?”
Another angle that I must consider is that there are areas of life where I truly excel, and there are areas of life where I am truly weak. Consistently putting my clothes in the dirty clothes hamper instead of on the floor is an area where I’m particularly weak. But my wife doesn’t rage on me and demand “Is so disrespectful for you to just throw your clothes on the floor when the hamper is two feet away!” No, she accepts that there are things that I’m very good at, and appreciated those things — and she helps me out in those areas where I am weak.
That doesn’t mean that I should just take advantage of her kindness and not try to do better at getting my clothes in the hamper. Even though I’m not usually consciously aware of or mindful of whether the clothes are momentarily on the floor (because I many times might take them off to watch TV in bed and later get up and put them back on to go to the kitchen, etc.), I do realize that habitually not putting them away creates additional burden for her. I love my wife and I want to make life easier for her, not harder. But mountains of evidence proves that I am very imperfect in the dirt clothes hamper area of my life.
So why do I do easily forget these things when people around me prove themselves weak in the areas where I am strong? Why do I listen to that loud, stupid “first voice” of offense that rings out in my head when my ecosystem are not met — instead of seeing an opportunity to continue to serve greatly (even when mentoring isn’t possible or isn’t generating any improvements).
Lord, you don’t grumble and moan and complain every time that I get things wrong. You love me, you serve me, you forgive me, and you help me. Help me to be more like you. Amen.