A Journey to Gratitude

I didn’t realize until I was married that I had such a negative outlook on life. It had always been so much easier for me to see what was wrong in a situation than what was correct, or good or right. But this realization smacked me in the face almost a year into being married.

You see my husband had decided to purchase a house to make our home, about a year and a half before we got engaged. He was taking the steps he thought were necessary to provide for me – his future wife. What he didn’t realize was the extent of work needed done on this house. Originally he thought the kitchen and bathroom were the only rooms which would need to be completely overhauled and renovated, everything else was just aesthetics that was until he realized the house had no insulation in the walls… So much for it only being those two rooms. My future house was gutted and renovated from the top down! This wouldn’t have been such an issue if we weren’t also trying to pay for a wedding at the same time on one income – I was just graduating University with the intention of moving right from my University rental to our house once we were married. Even so – God showed up big. We won various prizes from a bridal show to help compensate the cost of the wedding, great friends rallied around us to paint and clean our house while we were away on our honeymoon, but in my negative eyes there was still so much work to be done.

We came home from our honeymoon to a house which had no hot water, as our water heater had been off during renovations, no running water in the kitchen (it wasn’t hooked up yet), no counter tops or working stove, as our gas line was still needing to be moved from the original location of the stove to the new location. For the next 4 months I would cook every meal out of a crockpot and add another 5 months on to that of me washing our dishes in a bucket in the bathtub!

Our house renovations became a serious struggle for me. I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster ride; feel disappointed and sad about how long the renovations were taking, angry at my husband that he was losing motivation and just couldn’t complete them fast enough, guilty for not being grateful I wasn’t homeless and had a place to call a home as well as mad at God for allowing this to happen in the way that it was.

It wasn’t until a high school friend posted about a challenge she was doing to better herself that I felt like God was calling me to wake up and change my perspective – to admit I needed his help and was willing to do anything. Here is part of a blog entry I wrote explaining what I would be doing

“The purpose of this challenge is to do some inward house cleaning. Since getting married the past 10 months have been some of the lowest and difficult I’ve had in a long time. I often feel as the work I did to better myself while in University has gone out the window and I am once again a mess of a person, repeating my old nasty habits and instead of moving forward, I’m going backwards. I know on some level this is not true, but at the same time I am not happy with who I am and want to change. But I’m wasn’t sure how to change, as I feel like God is off in the distance and nowhere to be found, until I saw a new blog entry by a friend from my Youth Group days tilted the 100 Day Challenge. This friend spoke of how she is entering into a new stage of life (she is getting married in August) and wants to clean herself up to rise to her full potential. In her post she invited those reading to join her and so I am. I want to feel connected to God again and not so angry about how things haven’t turned out the way I expected with our house. I want to have JOY and know what it means to relax and not over think things so much that it leads to conflict. I want to enjoy being a newlywed and grow again in my Spiritual walk with God. As said by my friend the next 100 days I will act as a “knife, cutting through hard things, soft things, good things, bad things and the stuff just sitting there getting rusty. I will use this time to rid my life of all the dirt, grime and rust and choose to better myself. Not just clean up those sloppy areas, but get RID of them, so I can arise to my full potential”.

I decided to focus on 3 areas: spiritual, lifestyle/ exercise and growth/development. Within each area I listed specific things I wanted to do in each for example; a scripture on gratitude, read a specific book, drink more water, listen to a sermon series on marriage, practice having Sabbath and begin counting 1000 blessings (Ann Voskamp).

Throughout everything I really began to change my perspective and work on being more positive – because as I was counting my 1000 blessings I realized my negativity stems from not being grateful and thanking God for all of the amazing blessings around me. I needed to be intentional in seeing it, so I didn’t so easily fall into negativity. So I may not have had a kitchen sink to wash my dishes in, but I do have running water that is clean and easily accessible (I don’t have to hike to get it every day)! In one of Ann Voskamp’s devotionals that I read while doing my 100 Day Challenge, she references Mark Buchanan and his novel The Holy Wild and the idea that what initially sparks God’s anger in Romans 1:18-21 “[is not] the sinfulness you’d think it’d be: it’s the thanklessness – that we do. It’s our thanklessness that first stirs the full wrath of God.” As Romans says “for although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…” I no longer wanted to stir the wrath of God or cause strife in my marriage because I couldn’t see the positive.

I continue to work on being more positive, but I’m happy to announce it’s becoming more and more natural. It has been a journey but I am so glad I stopped being angry and playing the silent treatment game with God and started this process of peeling off the scales of negativity for eyes of joy and gratitude!