Monday, October 12, 2009
I sharply sucked in my breath in an attempt to compose myself. Anger had risen to the surface at a surprisingly fast rate. The children had been put to bed. Finally. It was quiet. It was my time. (Oh, self.) And then like little pinballs they took turns spilling from their rooms, bouncing from door to door, stomping on that hardwood floor at a cringe-worthy decibel.
After herding them back to their rooms, I returned to the kitchen. My solitude did not last. Once again, the unmistakable step of a barefoot boy sounded in the hall. He avoided my gaze. "Guilty," I silently sentenced the child. He walked right past me. Going to feign innocence, are we? I watched. The nerve! And then I realized what he was doing. Grabbing a pen, he squatted in front of the dishwasher to add to the list. My eyes closed and I sighed a deep, weary sigh. Back to bed padded the child.
I approached the yellow poster, and a wave of the guilt that I was so quick to assign washed over the deserving one. We had started the list several weeks ago. I didn't think they still used it. But as I began to read, I realized that they had not forgotten. "Thank you Lord . . ." read the title. And then the entries sprawled kid-style across the worn page. Many I had not seen.
"Thank you for giving Aidan clothes for school." "Thank you for giving us money when we needed it." "Thank you for protecting (our friend) Sophia when she could have died." And then, "Thank you for having a nice Mom." (Ouch.) "Thank you for protecting Aidan." "Thank you for giving us a new home to move to . . . ." The thanks continued, but I felt heavy-laden.
When did I cease to give thanks? When had I forgotten? At what point in life's tension did I buckle and decide to choose anger over thanksgiving? It was a poor choice. It was selfish and life-draining. And it accomplished absolutely . . . nothing.
But thankfully, I can choose again. Each day I can choose gratitude. Each day I can choose to die to self and gaze instead on my Savior's face. Each day I can respond to my Friend's irresistible invitation: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Indeed, my soul will find rest. For that -- and for countless other blessings -- I am grateful.