The power of gratitude
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
This year has been one of highs and lows. I've seen God come through in more ways than I can count- yet, it's also been a very challenging year. Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that was affecting her mood and behavior, and we have slowly come to find that almost NONE of the treatments that she needed were not covered by insurance.
So not only have we been dealing with the stress of having a child who is challenging, but we had the added stress of the financial burden of getting her better.
I've always wanted a safety net. Almost obsessively so. I grew up poor (or so I always believed), and got a job when I was 14 to pay for the things I needed like choir uniforms, concerts and anything else that was needed. My parents didn't have the finances to back me up and I knew that from a very young age. I wasn't allowed to drive without a job or a phone and I had to pay for my own gas as well as my own insurance. I think not having a back up, knowing that my parents couldn't bail me out if for some reason I had a need I couldn't meet created a sort of anxiety around finances for me.
As I got older and got married- I didn't really know how to have fun- I put all of my income in savings (literally all of it), and we lived off of my husbands income. I wouldn't use that money for anything fun like travel or what not because I just didn't know how and I didn't believe in taking risks. When I was pregnant with our first child and my husband was unemployed, I wouldn't touch my $12,000 savings- not even when we were scraping by because I needed to have a safety net. Talk about issues! Isn't that what savings is for?!
Fast forward about 8 years and I've learned to take risk- slowly.. It occurred to me that I couldn't have both my daughter's healing AND a nice financial buffer. We had fun plans for the little we had left in savings, but it didn't include paying medical bills, lol. I knew it wasn't optional not to pursue her health and wellness. This has been a little terrifying for me to be honest- because I could no longer depend on myself completely to get my needs met. I had to take a leap and know that even if we gained a little bit of debt in the process, it would be worth it.
What does all of this have to do with gratitude?
Well, I found myself comparing our life to others. I'd see all these pictures of families going on vacation to Disneyland, or putting their kids in gymnastics (which my daughter LOVES), and instead, we were driving every day to various therapy appointments. It was hard on my heart because I so wanted to provide those things for her. I noticed that a tiny bit of jealousy was creeping in and I didn't want that at all!
I would see the stack of bills coming in and FREAK THE HECK OUT. I make good money as a nurse, but with a grocery bill as expensive as our mortgage, I basically work to pay for our groceries and supplements. I began to feel like God wasn't hearing me. That MAYBE he loved other people more than us and that's why we were experiencing suffering (newsflash...everyone suffers...most people just don't talk about it). As I was in this emotional tornado funk, I was reminded of something the Lord spoke to me years ago during another REALLY hard time... "Andrea, Thankfulness protects your heart. It may not change your circumstances, but it will keep your heart from becoming hard in the process."
So I began to turn the ship around with gratitude. I began to thank God for every time I could recall that he came through. For electricity and a stove to cook on. For a job that allows me to work one day a week so I can be home with my kids. For an awesome side gig. For all the people who I've come to know through sharing essential oils. For every amount I was able to pay towards a bill even though it wasn't the full bill. For HEALTH... you guys... my daughter is healing! This is everything. The list could go on and on, but I noticed that the funk was leaving. I could celebrate the wins others were experiencing while simultaneously acknowledging my own, and no longer being bitter.
I began to see God in the little things, and am worrying less and less about the future while staying present in the moment with gratitude.
According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, "gratitude changes the brain and body for the better! Research on the effects gratitude has on our biology shows how being thankful increases our longevity, our ability to use our imagination, and our ability to problem-solve"
So when you're being grateful, you're creating new pathways in your brain that begin to automatically look for the positive in situations in stead of the negative! Spending just a few minutes every day to be thankful for even the smallest of things can change everything.
What are you thankful for? Do you practice a lifestyle of gratitude?
To your wellness,