By Lisa Davidson
Gratitude generates optimism and makes the days ahead full of expectation and anticipation. Go ahead; attack the day with enthusiasm. You can! Straight ahead of us are warm, family times with everyone gathered around the table sharing a good meal, laughing and playing games, sharing life. Soon friends will come together again and celebrate salvation and worship Jesus in complete surrender again…. Jubilation Crossing! The glass is half full. It’s not that we don’t have “down times” and difficult seasons. We don’t live like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand refusing to see difficult things and times we live in…. but, as a rule we do not allow ourselves the indulgence of a downcast spirit. We do our best to make the best of every situation. We don’t always do this perfectly but we try. We choose it….
Gratitude generates optimism.
It’s true. Gratitude unspoken is like a gift that is wrapped but never given; never opened. Silent gratitude does good to no one. It stays quiet, no one aware of it. The holder of silent gratitude may be barely aware they have it themselves….
Oh but gratitude spoken… It can encourage, strengthen, nourish and even flourish a soul. Many times someone has said something extravagantly kind to us about our marriage or our kids or just how something we said impacted them. There is a real building up of the “inner-man” when you feel like your life is counting for something. When another person expresses gratitude to you, for something your life has offered you well up inside. It is life giving! Gratitude generates optimism; which is contagious. It’s like a smile….
All days are not easy…
My uncle Butch was in the fight of his life; trying to recover from a fall brought on by a heart attack, which left him with a broken neck, paralysis and limbs that refuse to cooperate with his will. He became dependent on others to do everything for him. Feed him, clean him, dress him, trim his beard, help him go to the bathroom…everything. It is frustrating and difficult to watch; I cannot imagine living it. Although Uncle Butch was never known for his savvy diplomacy, he was absolutely known for his candor and for the most part he is optimistic.
(In his own way…) It is imaginable that one would have to be pretty upbeat and positive in the situation he found himself in, in order to endure the days. His situation was one of long-suffering, frustrating, painful rehabilitation. He had been reduced from a vigorous, bold, carefree fisherman to a broken, bed-ridden shell of the man he was. The doctors said he might regain 75% of his mobility over a period of time. They also say that depression nearly always accompanies this type of injury and process, which was completely expected and understandable. Most days he did not succumb to that. He remained optimistic.
There was a banner day in which he took several steps with the help of two nurses and a walker. Remarkable. He was overwhelmed with gratitude to those who assisted him in standing and walking. To him they were helping him live with better quality even though he knew he could not do it on his own. Maybe that was part of his thanking them over and over. His gratitude generated optimism, and not only for himself but for all of us near and dear to him. It felt like renewed hope. Everyone brightened. Optimism is contagious.
If Uncle Butch could be optimistic and express gratitude from his lowly place, surely we can find some things to be thankful and grateful for in our day-to-day lives. Perspective refreshes our souls, doesn’t it? Uncle Butch has passed on since those days and is at rest. I can see him now bass fishing in heaven….waiting for us. I am grateful to have known him, I am thankful for the life he lived and the impression he has forever left in me.
If we choose not to be grateful we will become bitter, sour-faced, and negative. Without gratitude the essence of our existence lacks luster. It would be sad to choose to live in that state. There is life all around us everyday and even in the midst of hard and difficult times there is much to thank God for. I don’t need to make a list of all the things there are for each of us to be grateful for but I will say just one: love. Even when I have felt alone in this world, and I have, there has always been the closeness of God’s love- which has kept me on more than one occasion.
Open your mouth and let optimism flow forward out of you. If you see something beautiful or good, say so. This will be easy to do once you have chosen to see the goodness embellished on your life and express a heart of thankfulness…
Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Optimism is freedom….and worth fighting and believing for. Worth practicing….
Gratitude generates optimism…