Tiredness and thankfulness.

This last week I’ve woken up tired. We’ve been going to bed late, and getting up early. Sometimes it seems no matter how much I plan or cajole or wheedle or lament, this keeps happening.

I have gotten really angry about it. It is important to both of us to get in bed at a decent hour. Me, because I’m bipolar, and not enough sleep brings out the weird side of my brain. Scott, because his work schedule means that he has to be up two hours before I do.

But this week I rounded a corner on this. Instead of getting upset about it, I decided to see it as a “this is the way it is” kind of thing. I decided to see it as something that God needs to happen. The fact that I’ve tried to get us to bed on time and we keep not managing to do it means that there is some other force acting on this. I prefer to see that force as God. I prefer to think that God is in charge of everything, and always is moving us in the proper path so that God’s will is properly unfolding.

Perhaps I need to be a little “off” in order to see a situation or a person in certain way. Perhaps being the way I am is helpful to God’s plan. Perhaps being a little tired means that we will both take more time to do something, and thus do it better. Perhaps someone else needs to see either one of us moving more slowly to know that it is OK to go slower, and that life isn’t all about rush rush rush.

The moment I accepted the way things are as part of God’s plan was the moment I felt better.

I think this is what the Lord’s Prayer is all about. I think that what Jesus is trying to teach us is to be OK with what is happening, and not to fight against it. I think that Jesus wants us to totally submit to God, all the time, in everything. I think that Jesus wants us to know that we need to relax into life in order to live life. The more we fight against it, the harder it gets. The more we let God use us as we were made to be used, the better off everything will be.

I think this is part of what Jonah teaches us when he was in the belly of the whale. Everything looked like it was lost. Nothing was going according to his plan. It was dark and smelly and lonely. And yet, in that moment, he gave thanks to God.

In the moment he praised God he was freed.

Weather report

I’m convinced there are only 5 days a year when people are happy about the weather. They are usually in early spring or early fall.

There are plenty of days where the weather is ok, just not perfect, and people don’t even notice. Sometimes the way to be grateful is to notice what it is not.

It is not raining.
It is not raining hard.
It is not flooding.
It is not 100 degrees.
It is not freezing.
There is no tornado
…volcanic eruption

You get the idea.

All in all, the weather isn’t bad. All in all, we are ungrateful wretches most of the time. All in all, we forget to be thankful for the many daily blessings that we are graced with.

“This is the day The Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”(Psalm 118:24)

This applies to every day. If we fail to notice the beauty and miracle of every day, we will spend our lives miserable. Just getting another day to live is a blessing.

On blessing, and thankfulness.

If you are Jewish you are obliged to say 100 blessings a day. One hundred times a day you are to find something to be thankful for. There are prayers for everything, and just looking over the prayers can remind you of how blessed you are in more ways than you ever realized.

There are prayers to be said upon seeing an unusual person. Upon seeing a rainbow. Upon seeing someone beautiful. There are of course various prayers for food. My favorite are the bathroom prayers – where you give thanks that everything that should stay in, stays in, and everything that should get out, gets out. I would never have thought to have a prayer of thanksgiving for that, but it makes perfect sense. All of these prayers make you mindful of all the many ways you are blessed every day. They keep you aware and grateful.

I think this is an excellent practice. We humans often take our many blessings for granted. We forget to be thankful for electricity until it goes out due to a storm. We forget to be grateful for running water until we need a plumber. We constantly grumble about what we don’t have while forgetting to be thankful for what we do have. And often we forget that “bad” is often just our value judgment. Our need to label things “good” or “bad” causes us many problems.

Here’s a twist for you. Give a complement to a stranger. Do this often. Start small and work your way up to complementing 10 strangers a day. Find something about them to tell them how cool it is. Perhaps it is their hairstyle. Perhaps it is something they are wearing. Look them in the eye when you tell them what you have noticed that is cool. Be sincere. Notice how this changes them and you. You both feel better. Well, you might be a little freaked out at first because you are shy, but trust me, you’ll get over it. Happiness spreads. Be a blessing to someone else.

One of the lines I like to incorporate into our supper prayers includes “Dear God, thank you for all that we have, and all that we don’t have.” Sometimes not getting what you want is actually a blessing.

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad. This applies to every day. Even the rainy ones. Even the ones with a tornado warning. Be thankful for everything, at all times. It takes practice, but it is worth it.