She stood there smiling at me, in the basement of the church where we both were visiting. It was a genuine smile, a relaxed smile, not a forced “I have to smile at you because I’m the evangelist’s wife” smile. She had three or four small children in tow, and they were climbing on everything in sight, as were mine. We had just met. “Wow, it must really be tough,” I remarked. “Traveling full time with these little ones! Good for you. I don’t know how you do it, going from church to church, ministering with your husband and always being on the road as a family. I’m sure it’s hard!”She kept smiling that real smile. And then she said, “You know what I’ve found out, as we travel from church to church? Everybody has a hard life. We all serve God where He has called us, and it’s not easy for anyone. I have nothing to complain about compared to some of the people I’ve met in our travels.” She didn’t say it harshly at all, just matter-of-factly. I nodded, as the truth of her words sank in. (So true! Why do I let myself fall into complaints and pity parties so easily?) We went on to chat about our children and the ministries we each were involved in.
How blessed her children are, I thought, growing up under the wings of that grateful mama. If I could see them in ten years, I imagine that her non-complaining spirit will have been caught by those young ones. Because, if mama complains, everybody complains.
If mama ain’t thankful, ain’t nobody thankful.I used to hear this song when I was growing up:
Let’s have an attitude of gratitude,
Let’s fill our hearts with praise!
Thank you Lord we’ll say, to whatever comes our way.
And with our attitude of gratitude,
Our lives will tell our friends
That something special happens
When Jesus lives within!Guess who the singer of that song was? It was a beautiful lady with a song on her lips, a bright smile on her face, and a clear testimony of God’s faithfulness and goodness to her. Was it somebody whose life was perfect, who had it all together, and just had so much to be thankful for that she sailed through her days, singing songs for kids about having an Attitude of Gratitude? No, not quite. The singer of that song was… Joni Eareckson Tada. I’ve read her story, and it’s full of pain and difficult times beyond what most of us could imagine. Maybe you’ve read it too. An orange folder resides on my bookshelf, marked on the front by a sharpie: “Walking in the Beauty of Holiness: Ladies’ Bible Study.” It’s filled with notes that I took during an eight-week Bible study taught by a dear friend of mine a few years ago. Walking in the Beauty of Holiness? That sounds so “spiritual” and must have involved hours of prayer and Bible memorization, right? Actually, it did not. Do you know what main thing I took away from that study?
Four words: “Stop complaining. Be thankful!” Such a major spiritual lesson wrapped up in such a simple truth.So especially during this upcoming season of gratitude (and actually, all the time!), I want to remember that a grateful spirit does not come naturally to anyone. Complaining DOES come naturally, to both mamas and children alike. It’s so easy to get into a habit of complaining. If needed, let’s stop ourselves mid-sentence. Let’s lead the way ladies, and set the tone in our homes: a tone of gratitude and thankfulness. Some days are joyful. Some days are tough. Whatever myriad of big or small troubles may come across our path– let’s keep an Attitude of Gratitude. May our hearts, minds, and lips reflect back to God all the praise He so rightfully deserves.
“The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:9 ♥