Several years ago I finally began to see that, while I was appreciative of all I had been given, there was a depth of gratitude that I had not reached. Prior to that, I did not know that to complain about something, even something I would not want to be without, was expressing ingratitude. My attitude was, ‘I’m thankful for_____, but...’ Since then, I have learned that the word ‘but’ means: Forget everything I just said, here’s what I really think. It was my husband who made me realize I was not fully grateful. He had told me this several times, but I couldn’t understand why he would think that about me.
|Ray and Joshua in 1991|
“You don’t appreciate anything you have. If you were to move to a brand new house eventually you would find something to complain about and it wouldn’t take long for you to become unhappy.”
Once again I argued with him, but something was different. This time, I could not make my argument with sincerity. Something had clicked in my mind and I understood what he meant. I had been reading all these things about happiness and how to obtain it, and in that instant, I knew he was right. Give a big round of applause for Ray, everybody! I don’t tell him that often enough and here it is in writing!
Coming to this realization about our house I began to see that there was a ripple effect of not being deeply grateful. I had only been mildly grateful for the house and, therefore, I had not given full appreciation for the money it took to buy and maintain it, or for my husband’s efforts to provide for us. I began to remember what it had been like when I thought we would never be able to buy a house and I started to think of how far we had come over the years and my husband’s role in our success. My husband had gone to work every day, not only to provide shelter and food but to provide comforts in this home for his family. He had done it willingly because he knew I wanted it. It had never mattered to him if we owned a house. He always said that he could live quite easily and happily without it. He could have done any other less stressful job just to get by and provide the basics, but he stayed at the stressful job because the pay was better. He did it for me and for Joshua. His sacrifice gave me choices, specifically the choice to be at home with Joshua. I had a home daycare which enabled me to earn money from home. During the times when enrollment was down, I didn’t even have to consider getting a job outside the home and putting Josh in someone else’s care because of my husband and what he was willing to do for us.
My heart is filled with thankfulness for my husband. I now realize that my complaining was a display of ingratitude for the house and for my husband. I began to see him in a new light, understanding that he was playing a role in my life, without acknowledgment and without being appreciated for it. My way of thinking had been that it was his role as a husband to do that for his family. The truth is, he had a choice not to do it, but he did it anyway. He was not being fulfilled in his job and he was under stress much of the time, but he did it anyway. He continues to do it anyway and I can never express how grateful I am for him. Some might say society pressures us to do certain things in life, like work at a job you may not like in order to support your family, but in the end, we all have choices to do what we do, or not. We shouldn’t overlook the choices of our loved ones just because society says it is their duty.
Many of us tend to think that if people loved us they would do the things we want them to do and refrain from doing things we don’t want them to do. Women especially have this thought quite often. When someone does not live up to our expectation of the way we think they should love us we overlook the things they are doing to show their love. We take them for granted. The fact that my husband went to a stressful job every day was his way of showing us love. It is our task to look for the ways they do show it, not for the ways we want them to show it. We must appreciate everyone for who they are, not who we want them to be. That is unconditional love and it shows them and God our gratitude for all that is given.
When we can be deeply and truly grateful for our possessions without becoming attached to them and placing them above our family, it puts everything in our world into perspective. We begin to see that our loved ones are what we can’t live without, not the possessions. Our loved ones are important in our lives. Our possessions are nice and comfortable, but not mandatory. This house is not mandatory, but my husband’s happiness and well-being are. I hope he knows how grateful I am for him and that my gratitude and love are not dependent upon how much money he makes or what he can do for me.
I am grateful for your attention. See you next time!