“I have nothing to wear today!”
That was the thought that ran through my mind as I aimlessly looked in my closet filled with clothes and shoes trying to decide what to wear. Moments later, while scrolling through Facebook, the following photo came into full view on my computer screen with the caption “Tell me again what you have to complain about!”
In that moment, I was convicted. I take for granted all that I have to be thankful for. I get caught in the comparison trap because I have my eyes fully focused on myself, my circumstances, and hardships. I fail to realize how truly blessed I really am. I see things that my friends in the typical world get to do or see commercials advertising a life we can’t afford. That’s when jealousy creeps in.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-18 tells us to “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Did you catch that? Be thankful in all circumstances.
I must admit, giving thanks in all circumstances can be a struggle for me. When it is 3:00 AM and I am up in the middle of the night changing my son’s sheets AGAIN for the third night in a row, I don’t always look to find something to be thankful for. But, I have a choice. I can grumble and complain about the task ahead of me and the lack of sleep or I can be thankful that I have clean sheets to put on his bed and clean clothes for him to wear. It’s a choice.
Regardless of what I am facing, I can always find something in that situation to be thankful for. I just have to choose to look for it and recognize it.
The special needs life is hard. No doubt. But the reality is we are so blessed. Many times we get wrapped up in the day to day responsibilities and stresses we face. It is easy to overlook or take our blessings for granted.
Finding things to complain about seems to come much more naturally for me.
I complain about having to cook. Yet, there are people around the world who have to walk for miles just to get clean water to cook with.
I complain about laundry, but I have a washer and dryer in my home with its own room while people in other parts of the world are washing their clothes in muddy rivers and streams.
I complain about what I don’t like about my house while there are children in other nations who make their home in a trash dump.
Changing your thoughts takes practice. But when I choose thankfulness over complaining, my heart is filled with joy and contentment. When I choose to give thanks in all circumstances, good or bad, I am less likely to getting caught in the comparison trap – a never-ending self-deprecating cycle.
Well, that’s a great idea. But HOW do we change our thoughts?
The first step is right now. Choose, in this moment, to be content with where you are, who you are, and how God has formed your family.
Your next step is practical and tangible. Go get a stack of post-its. Post a note on your dishwasher about how wonderful it is to have that dishwasher. Post a note on your child’s door listing their best qualities. Then, say them out loud to your children. Our children hear everything. They hear you complain. BUT they also hear your praise. Choose to verbalize more positives than negatives.
As a third step, consider calling or texting a friend and asking for them to be your accountability. Ask them to remind you often about the good things in your life. Encouragement from a friend can do wonders for your mind.
Think about it…
When you look at your life, be honest, do you complain more or do you look for the good?
Philippians 2:14-15 (NLT) reminds us to, “ Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Think about this verse. How can you make steps to implement this into your daily life.
Make a list of the top three things you are thankful for today.
Father God, thank you for the way you bless my life every day. Thank you for the family you have entrusted to me. Forgive me for the times I grumble and complain or fail to thank you for your goodness. Today, I choose to be thankful. I choose to see the good in my situation. Amen.