Saturday, May 17, 2008

Something to Be Grateful For

For our ward's quarterly Enrichment meeting we decided to focus on gratitude and President Eyring's talk "O Remember, Remember". For part of the program we asked several sisters to keep gratitude journals for one month and then report on the experience. Their stories ended up being the highlight of the night!

One of my favorites came from one of my visiting teachers, De. De has been with me for a few years now and has listened to me jabber through a lot of ups and downs (I talk A LOT and my poor VTs just listen. I love having a captive audience!). She is a wonderful listener and I'm grateful for her gospel insights and patience. De also happens to be blind. She has some residual sight which allows her to see contrasts but she has a hard time going from low light to bright light and, I think, most things are just a blur for her.

Here is what De said that night:

I was asked to keep this journal to record things I'm grateful for. I'm not a gifted writer, but I started out trying to write something each evening. I think I was trying too hard to think of things that were "out of the ordinary" (maybe bordering on the miraculous), but there were a lot of days that were just ordinary. So I decided that I was overthinking it. I don't have to try that hard to think of things to be grateful for. So I started thinking about all the blessings I receive every day. I'm alive - what a wonderful gift that is. I wake up every morning in my warm, cozy bed in my own home. I can hear the birds singing and I don't have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I should be on my knees constantly thanking God for all the wonderful blessings I have. I was ashamed to realize that I had been taking all these things for granted.

Diana [our RS pres.] mentioned in her lesson Sunday that we should be grateful for everything in our lives, even the bad things. That got me thinking about the trials in my life...have I ever felt grateful??? When I bang my head for the 100th time in a day or lay something down and can't find it again, do I feel grateful, or do I mutter, "Lord, life would be so much easier if I could just see."

I hadn't given that a lot of thought before, but I did find some things to be grateful for. I should be grateful that I haven't had a concussion or permanent brain damage. I can't see the grey hair, wrinkles or turkey neck, so in my mind I'm still the same person I've always been--I'll never get old! I don't have to spend a lot of time worrying about what to wear. If I get dressed and my clothes are on right side out and I don't have on 2 different shoes, I'm good to go.

Seriously, there are blessings. I see things with my heart instead of my eyes. When you can't see what people look like, you see who they really are on the inside. I think being visually impaired has made me a better person. I'm more patient & compassionate & I've had to develop a sense of humor. If you don't laugh, you cry. So once again, I don't have to look very hard to find things to be grateful for.

And now for the really big blessings (and this is miraculous). Because of the atonement, I will be resurrected with a perfect body and I'll be able to see. And because of temple ordinances, I've been able to do baptisms for my parents & my son, and I'll be able to see them again.

So what the gratitdue journal has done for me is to make me think seriously about all the many blessings in my life, and to be truly grateful for every one of them (even the trials) If I actually made a list of all the things I'm grateful for, this little notebook wouldn't be big enough to hold it. It's my prayer that I will always be aware of the many blessings in my life and never take them for granted and I hope that someday I will be worthy to return to live with Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ and to be able to thank them personally for the life they have given me.

Maybe it's because I know De personally that her story meant so much to me, but I don't think so. I think it was meaningful because she whole-heartedly embraced what gratitude can do for us. Gratitude is such a powerful state of mind. (Even WebMD thinks of it as a part of depression therapy!) Not only does gratitude makes us more alert, enthusiastic, determined, optimistic, and energetic, it also opens our hearts to God. And for that, I'm grateful.


Charlotte said...

What a beautiful inspiring story! De has a wonderful outlook as well as a sharp wit. Thanks for sharing her story with us! I totally agree about the gratitude journals - mine has done wonders for me as well.

Kelly said...

Back in 2006, I tried writing five things in my journal every day that I was thankful for. I only lasted three days before my goal to keep a journal fell by the wayside -- this will likely be my new year's resolution every year for the rest of my life -- I'm so bad.

But here are my three days --
Five things I'm thankful for:
Day One -- my husband; my children; my home; my mini-van; my dad.
Day Two -- a dishwasher that works; that I got all the indoor Christmas decorations put away; leftover ham and potato casserole tastes just as good as the first day; Jon's teacher Mrs. Connors; the peppermint tea and honey that Tina Zufelt gave me today (I had been sick for about a week).
Day Three -- the young women leaders I work with; a working washing machine; my crockpot; the Flylady e-mails that help me stay motivated to keep my house clean; good music.

I never did it long enough to have to dig deep, but in the end, Day One says it all. They are there every day, and they are my greatest treasures.

Lura said...

Thanks so much. This made me pause and think of all the things I am grateful for. Maybe I'll even use this topic as my next blog entry!

Heathie said...

"When you can't see what people look like, you see who they really are on the inside."

Wouldn't it be great if we all had this ability? De sounds like such a strong, sweet gal. What a wonderful example.
I definitely need to work on my gratitude; I should start a journal, too (or resume it since I started one way back in the 40th ward, for like, a week).
That sounds like it was a great enrichment night. Our next one is on food storage, which is also something I need to work on. Hooray for Relief Society!

Angie Wilson said...

I'm SOOO glad you wrote this down for me to find. I REALLY enjoyed listening to what De (and all the others) had to say.