Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gratitude at Night, your heart will take flight

The therapist that I have been working with focused on tools that I could use to keep my head above water, as opposed to dissecting the individual issues that were washing over me. I’ve at least tried all of the things that she recommended, and now that our time is done, I need to remember what they are and keep at them. I think that most of them are just good practices for everyone!

One of the first things that she asked me to start was to pray at night ONLY with gratitude. You do not ask for anything, you do not share worries, you simply thank your Heavenly Father for all of the things that you are grateful for.

She mentioned a talk that she had heard, in which a General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was visiting with a family that had recently lost a loved one. There was great sorrow in the household, and the family members were trying to cope with their loss. When the visitors were about to leave, the family asked someone to pray before they left. The general authority whispered, “Gratitude only.”

How difficult is that, to pray with gratitude after a loss such as this?

And yet, as they began to pray, they found words of comfort to offer the family. They expressed gratitude for the gospel, that helps us to understand the nature of death, the plan of salvation, and the life that awaits us after our time on earth has ended. For good friends who gather near to comfort us. So many things came to mind that there were to be grateful for.

I tried this immediately, with the idea that I often lay awake at night, worrying and planning. I use that time to second guess myself, berate myself for mistakes or perceived misdeeds, and to think about the ‘what ifs’ that may greet me with the sunrise. It results in a very long night, spent miserably, and leaving me exhausted to face the new day.

The first night was comical, as I struggled to be only grateful. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to be grateful for…I found plenty that I could express my thankfulness for. It was just really hard not to tack on a “please bless me with…” on the end. Humor is a great healer for me, and I allowed myself to giggle at my stumbling. I got very creative in how I presented what I wanted to talk about, setting the groundwork to ask for blessings at a later time, but with gratitude at this moment.

I slept well, I went to bed happy for the things that I did have.

I was able to see that I am blessed even in this time of difficulty. Despite financial hardship, my family has been able to survive after 9 months of my unemployment. We have not had any major family discord, nor have my husband and I had stress between the two of us involving money. Or anything, for that matter. We have worked as a team, and even the children understand that there are things that we need to do at this time to maintain our home, our family, and our finances, and they have been very good about accepting their responsibilities. (Which means, for the baby, that we cannot go to “Dongolds” – McDonald’s – every time he feels like it!)

I have felt the hand of the Lord in our decisions. I KNEW that it was right for me to be leaving the company. It was hard, but I knew that was what He wanted for me.

I have been able to rid myself of toxic influences, more effectively than if I had made the decision to leave myself. Again, at some cost, but the end result is that I am stronger and able to make better decisions for my future. I have some freedom that I would not have had in other circumstances.

I have been granted small freelance jobs to do…always at the right time…to boost my confidence and keep my name out in the business world.

I have been able to be home, something that I have never been able to do in the 18 ½ years since I had children. I love that. I’m really enjoying this time, even though it may not last forever.

Today, a dear cousin is celebrating the birth of a child that she did not get to raise on this earth. He was born much too soon for his little body to survive, but he was a very strong spirit that she was allowed to feel before he left. While most would lament their loss, and rage against the circumstances that took him from them, she is choosing to remember him. To be grateful for the time that they had – which was precious little. To keep him in their thoughts. She knows that they will be together again, and while she yearns for that day, she is consoling herself with the knowledge that he is a part of their family forever. I’m proud of her conviction and courage to openly talk about this little boy, that others might have tried to forget out of pain. She has chosen the higher road, to be grateful.

I have incredible examples of this all around me. My extended family has experienced some heartbreaking situations, and yet, they remain hopeful. They are grateful for the lessons learned, and the blessings along the way.

I am grateful for the technology that allows me to hear their stories, firsthand. To remain close to cousins that live far away, and to be a part of their lives, even when we seldom actually see one another. I’ve recently discovered Facebook, where I’ve connected with old friends and members of our branch that have gone out into the world. I am able to surround myself with good people, even if it’s only via the internet.

The second thing that I gained was a greater appreciation for those morning prayers! I often hit the ground running in the morning, and it is midday before I remember to pray, and then I’m usually on the run and don’t have the peace and quiet that I would like. It gets lost in the shuffle and my day does not start with that sweet, quiet moment of prayer. With the stipulation that I cannot ask for blessings in my nightly prayer, the morning prayers became much more important. I would never be able to ask for things if I didn’t TAKE the time to pray at the beginning of the day!

Give it a try, and let me know how it works for you!

1 comment:

  1. This is a brilliant and inspired idea. One I'm excited to try. I've heard of other "gratitude only" scenarios, but this is a new and great one.
    Thanks a million!