When you pray be sure that you listen as well as talk. You have things you want to say to God but He also has things He wants to say to you.
- Joyce Meyer
I arrived home yesterday from a week-long visit to my parents’ house and was met at the door by a tail-wagging pup and a hangdog husband. Nothing had happened in my absence: no grocery shopping, no housecleaning, no laundry, no plant-watering, no picking-up-after-yourself.
One teenager was asleep in the middle of the afternoon, I could smell rotting fruit from the hallway, and not a flat surface was uncovered. Instead of giving the big hugs I’d anticipated, I skulked to my bedroom to sulk.
Disappointment is a hard feeling for me to handle. It tips over a whole row of unpleasant emotional dominoes: hurt, anger, resentment. Though I struggle mightily to rein in my reactions, I don’t always succeed. If you’d met me for the first time last night, you might not have recognized me as a Christian.
But the Christian in me knows that that the way out of any emotional rut is to refocus my thoughts on what I can be thankful for. Since I didn’t have any immediate gratitude last night, I got up and sorted a mountain of dirty clothes. Then I cleared off the dining room table, picked up a room, took out the recycling.
With each task I acknowledged something I could be thankful for and said thanks to God, regardless of how I actually felt at the time. Sometimes saying the words leads the way for my heart to follow, and I arrive at a better place.
This morning the house is mostly back in order. My feelings mostly are, too. Messes can be cleaned, and emotions pass; today is a new day. For that, I can definitely be thankful!
Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.