The Infinite Benefits of a Grateful Heart


Do you have a heart filled with gratefulness, or one that’s always in search of a pity party?

Don’t get me wrong, I like a serious pity party as much as the next person. I’ve been known to stay at one way past closing time, reveling in the melancholy, sipping the bitter dregs from the bottom of my bottle and searching for tiny crumbs of misery. But I never leave those parties with a smile on my face and confetti in my hair. I walk away with a solitary balloon dragging behind me on a string.



I’m constantly tempted to compare my own meager portions with someone else’s feast.

But comparison is a thief. It robs us of contentment and joy and drives a wedge in relationships.

So, I have to ask myself often. Am I grateful for what I have or striving for what you have?

It’s easy to avoid comparison when someone achieves success in a way that doesn’t threaten me. For example, if you open a restaurant and are booked solid every night, I will be thrilled for you. Not only do I have no plans of opening a restaurant, but I have zero desire to cook. Your success is not a threat to me.

But, what if your success is my dream?

Not long after Steve and I were married, we had our first beautiful baby. Ashley was our delight and after a short time, we decided to expand our family further. Year after year, we tried to have another baby. Over ten years passed and I had all but given up hope. During those years, friends and family had babies, and more babies, and even MORE babies while we prayed for another child, went through fertility testing and suffered through a failed adoption.

With every year that passed, I longed for what I didn’t have and struggled to be grateful. I held back the tears each time someone announced a pregnancy. I forced myself to attend a seemingly endless parade of baby showers. But pity cast a dullness over each and every celebration.

Over time, God revealed to me that His love and grace are infinite and his gifts are chosen specifically for me.

I finally found peace with our little family of three, became grateful for the gifts I was given and was truly happy whenever a friend announced another baby on the way.

So, imagine our surprise when thirteen years after the birth of our first daughter, we welcomed another daughter, Rachel, followed two years later by our boy Sam. The joy and light that our friends and family beamed onto us, with the birth of each of our children was nothing short of dazzling.

It’s been nineteen years since I last gave birth and these many years later, we now know the endless bliss of grandchildren. Our hearts are full.

Here’s the thing. It’s hard for the light in others to reflect back on me when my own gleam is gone.

It’s like looking into a mirror and refusing to smile, because the image staring back at me isn’t smiling either. 

In the past few years I have come to realize that the more I practice gratitude and send love out into the world, the more it multiplies. When I am grateful for the gifts I’ve been given, I can celebrate with you when you succeed.

Love and gratitude are infinite. There isn’t a Scrooge McDuck vault out there somewhere with a miserly, finite supply. It’s endless and multiplies the more it’s given away.

I’m not saying I’ll never throw another pity party. But the next time, I may not stay quite as long.


Compare One Another’s Burdens

I’ve recently noticed I have a tendency to compare.

A while back I was talking with my daughter when I realized I passed along that tendency. We were comparing our lives to others. It wasn’t a comparison of our looks or clothes. We weren’t talking about how we wished we had awesome vacations like other people.  Nothing fun like that.  We were comparing burdens.  You read that right.  We weren’t bearing one another’s burdens, we were comparing them.

It sounded something like this.  “I heard so-and-so complain the other day about an ingrown toenail. She said ‘this is the WORST PAIN EVER! I can’t walk another step.’ What does she even know about pain?  She should try dislocating her shoulder and tearing a rotator cuff or living with someone in chronic pain.  Has she had a baby without an epidural or watched her husband have a heart attack?  She has no idea what real pain is!”

Okay, so the conversation wasn’t verbatim and most of those things were probably said by me, not my daughter, but you get the gist of it, right?

There’s a hierarchy of pain.  At the bottom of the scale is an ingrown toenail (sucks to be you) or an itchy scalp – unless that itchy scalp is caused by head lice, then you move up the pain scale rapidly!

At the top level of that hierarchy is unrelenting chronic pain, permanent disability or the death of a child. Serious stuff.

You better know where you are in that hierarchy or you will get NO sympathy from me. Yeah, you heard me right, lady in the grocery store who is enraged over the quality of the kale this week.  You are somewhere at the bottom of the hierarchy and need to just zip it!

Appearances can be deceiving though, can’t they?

There are some people who definitely need to put on their big girl panties and stop their whining but how can we know who that is, exactly?  Where’s our x-ray vision that gives us a peek into their hearts or their lives?

I’ve endured days and weeks of unrelenting pain and heartache and have managed just fine only to have a splinter send me into a spiral.

Pain and burdens are like snow on the roof of a house.  

One by one, the flakes fall down, lighter than a feather. They pile up on the roof and become heavy but the roof is strong and holds up fine.  Then there’s that one, final teeny-tiny snowflake that slowly drifts down, down, down…

Black and white

As soon as that snowflake hits the roof, everything caves in.  

It isn’t that the single snowflake is heavy, it’s the accumulation of millions of snowflakes that causes the collapse.

I have no idea what you deal with in your life.  You may think, by reading through some of my blog posts that you have me figured out, but really, you don’t.  I pick and choose what I will share.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad.  Most of the bad I keep to myself.  There are things that nobody knows.  Things I only share with my Heavenly Father.

I would imagine it’s the same for you. You share a tiny portion of your life and keep the rest private.

We shouldn’t think, for one moment, that we have a clue why that man is standing on the street corner begging for food, or why that couple’s teenage kids are such hooligans, or why that mother in the grocery store can’t make her kid shut up, or why the house on the corner has paint peeling and weeds growing on their lawn or why that young girl throws herself at every man she sees. Only God knows our past. Only he can see what’s in our hearts.

I love these words in Galatians,

“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (Gal 6:2 MSG)

How beautiful is this?  

Restore. Avoid criticism. Stoop down. Share burdens. 

The bottom line is this. Comparison is rarely, if ever, a good thing. It presumes we know more than we do, pits us against each other and ultimately, is a thief of joy. I for one, need to do way less comparing and a whole lot more burden bearing. How about you?

low-beams with quote

(Photo by Jay Mantri)