Last Sunday I completed a 1,000 mile, cross-country road trip with my husband and four children to spend time with my family of origin. We planned to start our trip on Friday morning, but due to the huge snow storm coming, we decided to leave Thursday instead.
Just a few hours into the trip, the whining began. No, no. It wasn’t my kids (although they did have their fair share of it as well). It was me. Shocker, I know.
I whined about the type of hot beverage my husband bought me (it was different than what I wanted).
I complained about the size of water he bought at the gas station (I needed a larger one. I am a nursing mom, for goodness sakes!) He turned this into a joke by buying me an entire gallon of water, by the way, which made us both laugh. (He’s not a whiner).
When we got to the hotel, I sighed that there wasn’t a “perfect” set up for our baby’s pack n play and inwardly lamented that we would (all six of us) have to sleep in the same room for three nights.
I was just plain grumbly.
That night, I slept on a pull out bed that was basically all springs sticking in my back. I made sure my husband knew how badly I had slept. He sighed.
A Wake Up Call
The events that had brought us across the country were sobering and thought-provoking. We were there to be with my family in the midst of a tragedy.
And here I was whining about little inconveniences and preferences. It was eye-opening and convicting.
I decided to make a choice. No more whining.
The next night, my baby woke up several times crying. Each of my girls took turns coughing and the daughter I slept with kicked me all night. But I woke up that morning, asked my husband if I could take a short nap (instead of more whining) and chose to thank God for my many blessings.
I chose to focus on the fact that I was here with my amazing family.
I chose to rejoice that I had a roof over my head and that my children were warm and well-fed in the midst of a snow storm.
I chose to thank God that we had traveled safely and had been having a meaningful time with our relatives.
As a result, my spirit was flooded with joy that no “perfect circumstance” could ever replicate.
First World Problems
It’s been proven that our sense of satisfaction with life doesn’t tend to improve much after our basic needs are met. Meaning, when I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear, and food to eat, I am pretty much just as happy as when I have way more than I need.
More stuff, more circumstances going my way, more this or that doesn’t make us happier people.
Choosing to give thanks does. It actually releases joy in our spirits and into the lives of others.
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
When we give thanks for what God has given us and the moment that is before us right now, we choose to unwrap the gift of the present.
It no longer matters if our latte is cold, if our refrigerator broke, if there is construction going on outside our window, or if someone took our parking place.
These are all first-world problems anyways.
We give thanks because we know that life is a gift and right now we are breathing, we have food, water, and shelter.
Complaining digs a pit which hides us from the beauty that surrounds us. Praise lifts us above our circumstances so that we can see the gifts that we have been given.
Thankfulness also allows us to emerge from our own pre-occupation with self and enter into the needs and joys of those around us.
Since we are capable of either encouraging or discouraging the eternal souls of the people around us, let’s choose thankfulness today.
The present awaits your unwrapping…