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Being grateful doesn't come naturally to most of us. While all of us have good things in our lives, very few of us receive the good around us. It takes courage to open our hearts and acknowledge what blesses us.

Instead, many of us take refuge in entitlement. We pretend we are owed freedom from suffering. We pretend that challenges are aberrations in human experience. The reality is we all struggle and we all suffer. Not equally, of course. Injustice is a reality of life, and a sad one. But pretending we are owed a life free of pain keeps us blind to the goodness and abundance we enjoy.

Some of us fear that focusing on the good blinds us and keeps us from facing reality. In my view, gratitude actually facilitates seeing truthfully.  Gratitude disrupts our entitlement and gives us strength to take deeper responsibility for our lives, even in the face of profound challenges. We can acknowledge what makes our lives better and at the same time recognize what we want to change. We can be grateful AND grieve honestly what we lack.

I remember when my oldest child was diagnosed with pervasive developmental delay. I was devastated and afraid. I saw other parents not having to deal with the emotional demands of raising a special needs child, and was drowning in my own loss and despair. Shortly after his diagnosis, my son was placed in a new school. Most of his classmates had much more severe challenges, and I saw other good parents dealing with much harder realities. It brought into focus how much I had to be thankful for at the same time that there was legitimate grief and fear. Both realities were true and acknowledging both helped. I'd been handed a harder path AND I had much to be grateful for. This didn't make the challenge go away, but it gave me genuine strength to deal with what life was asking of me.

Acknowledging what is good in every situation will make you kinder and happier. It will make you more able to cope with hard realities. God wants us to be grateful because He wants us to have joy in the face of difficulty. So consider today what and who blesses your life, and take in that goodness. It will open you up to even more!


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