My Court Jester, my Caleb, loves his shoes. He is seven and spends his birthday and Christmas money on new kicks. The boy is particular—like over the top—about what shoes he wears with what socks and what outfit.
On the flip side, I missed the female shoe-love gene. I’m happy in my Birks or a pair of flip-flops. The last thing I want to shop for is a pair of shoes. But not my Caleb.
Shoes are his serious business.
So when my little man needs a consequence for behavior, he looses the privilege of picking out his shoes the next day. Strange, I know, but it’s effective.
A few nights ago he got in trouble and had to endure the consequence. I told him I was picking his kicks the next day.
Oh the horror! Oh the cataclysmic travesty! His life was over.
The alligator tears and sobs lasted for, well, let’s just say longer than they should. They lasted through the bed-time routine and halfway through the reading of Horton Hears a Who, where “a person’s a person no matter how small.” The irony was lost on my sobbing second grader.
Finally. He curled up next to me, took a deep breath, and shared his newest revelation.
Looking up at me from the corner of his eyes, he mumbled, “I have a terrible life. My parents make my life terrible.” With a half grin and a shaky breath, he pressed into my side, and I smothered him with hugs and kisses.
Yes. His life is just awful.
It didn’t matter he had a momma reading a book to him in a soft bed. It didn’t matter he was cozy and warm. It didn’t matter he had a fully belly or that he was surrounded by toys to play with and clothes to choose from.
My sweet boy only focused on what he lacked. And this focus dictated his perspective. And his perspective ruled his emotions.
Caleb is not alone.
I often join him in my grumpy, dramatic tantrums. I only got six hours of sleep. Ugh! I don’t have time to finish reading that book. There are too many essays to grade. How can we not have ice cream in this house? Is there ever a month when I can stop worrying about bills? Sick—again!? But I just bought pointe shoes three weeks ago. How can they be dead? Is there a night this week that I can just be home?
My list of complaints and whines and moaning can go on. And on. And on.
Gratitude changes our perspective.
An attitude of thanksgiving brings joy. When we focus on our gifts and our blessings, we are able to see our lives in a new way. We realize that maybe our lives aren’t so “terrible” after all.
There’s a miracle recorded four times in the Bible. In this miracle, Jesus uses five small barley loaves and two fish to feed a crowd of over 5,000. Tucked away in this story is a truth I have only just seen thanks to this podcast by Steven Furtick.
John 6:11 states, “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”
Do you see it? Jesus gave thanks over the scarcity.
Facing a crowd of thousands, Jesus and the disciples only had the small portion of bread and fish.
Jesus was grateful for even that tiny offering.
He gave thanks over the scarcity—the miracle occurred in the scarcity. Had there been no need, a miracle would not have been necessary.
When last did I show gratitude over our family’s financial struggles because those struggles give me an opportunity to trust God more?
When last did I thank God for such a little time left in my day because my hours were filled with the care and keeping of my family and my students—an honor and a privilege?
When last did I thank God for stacks of laundry waiting to be folded because I had laundry to fold?
My perspective changes when I view my life in terms of what I do have instead of what I don’t. On the days my anxiety rises and I stomp angrily through the hours, I need to ask myself where my focus has been. Those moments when my frustration reaches the pinnacle, what peak am I viewing my life from?
Having a perspective of giving my God gratitude changes everything.
Thanksgiving is a day-changer, a game-changer, a life-changer.
And today? This week? I was desperate for the reminder.
Because I have so much to be thankful for…