My children went back to school today in single digit temps after a long three weeks at home. Because my life is not glamorous, I decided to make another day stuck indoors count by tackling the BOXES of paperwork in my attic that needed to be filed. There were four years worth of tax documents, bills, report cards, random sermon notes and junk that I have been avoiding, because, really, there are hundreds of more exciting things to do than organize paperwork. My need for productivity beat out my longing for adventure today and I dug in.
And, today, God met me in in an extraordinary way, right smack in the middle of my everyday--my dusty, disorganized attic.
I have been in a bit of a funk--not just a Winter/seasonal funk (although that never helps) but more of a grumpy funk. I haven't struggled in a way that has required diagnosis, but the reality of life (broken relationships, disappointment, parenthood, insecurity) in the last few years has taken its toll on my attitude and Spirit. While I consider myself extremely blessed to have a loving family, material resources and a first world life--I've gotten tired, grumpy and more sarcastic and cynical than I ever wanted to be.
I think it's why I have slacked off on writing quite as often on the blog. I want to be authentic, but a lot of my blah just doesn't need to be shared. It needs to be prayed over, confessed and discussed with my intimate friends--but not published in cyberspace. So, I've been quiet.
As I have prayed and pondered, I've tried to rid my life of some of the things that exacerbated those feelings within me. I've acknowledged it to my husband and a couple of very close friends...but, honestly, accepting this attitude change as part of the reality of middle age, I sort of started settling for just keeping it reigned in.
Ugh. Why do we settle???
In a complete God-incidence, I was listening to Andy Stanley's recent sermon series on Judges as I worked. Specifically, the sermon called Extraordinary reverberated in my heart, mind and attic with this phrase: "What if--just for thirty seconds--you could see yourself not as You see you--but as God sees you?"
And, as if on cue, in all those papers, I found a file that pricked my frustrated heart. An old manila folder with "thank you" scrolled on the label held old encouraging notes from co-workers, friends, my husband, my kids...As I read their words (most of it 10-15 years old) it awakened the youthful, enthusiastic, joyful part of my heart. I felt loved, known, appreciated, seen--and buoyant. I was reminded that my attitude matters.
I am trying to raise grateful children, but honestly, having to constantly remind them to thank me feels dumb. One day, when I mature, perhaps I will have a servant's heart that can make the dinner, clean the same surfaces over and over again and spend large portions of my life in the laundry room with a servant's heart-- but lately I just haven't been there. And the guilt I heap upon myself over the fact that I really want to be thanked...well, it makes me feel worse.
We are working on gratefulness around here, but it is a marathon. Today, in the meantime, I REALLY appreciate the gift of past gratitude, encouraging words and reminders of how God has been glorified by my formerly good attitude. I am certain the people who wrote those letters and cards years ago, had no idea how this housewife would weep over them today.
I am reminded again to stop and SEE the people around me, to sincerely thank them. I am also challenged to WRITE IT DOWN so that one day when they need reminding, words might bless them again. It certainly made a difference in me today!