Gratitude vs. Grumblitude


Happy Thanksgiving! Or is it? What is the attitude of our hearts? Are we exhibiting gratitude or grumblitude? What exudes from our beings? Sweetness or sourness? Compliment or complaint?

Sometimes, we lose perspective on what is important, and we come down with a case of the grumbles. I hear it in the voices around me. I hear it coming out of my own mouth. “I wish my house….” “I wish I had a….” “I wish I could____, but no, I am stuck with_____.”

So, how can we quell the flow of such unthankful thoughts coming from our hearts, minds, and mouths? We change our perspectives and take in new things so that we in turn can pour them out.

God reigns in the kingdom of men. It is He who holds our very breaths. What a magnificent thought.

What can I see, touch, hear, feel, taste, and do? Perhaps some of my limbs and senses do not function, but I still have some amount.

Have I eaten? Slept under a roof, even if it belonged to a shelter? Worn clothes? Experienced warmth? Had joy at some point in my life? Yes. Yes, I have.

So, the fact that my car is fifteen years old, dented (that pole in the parking garage should not have been in my way), and buried under years of country dust because I cannot lift the hose and brush to clean it should still be a cause for gratitude.

The fact that my couch is seventeen years old, worn, sagging, has shot springs, and has a piece of wood frame jutting out should not be a source of grumbling.

The fact that I am living in a manufactured home, which needs repairs and landscaping, rather than living in my dream Victorian mansion with park-like gardens should not faze the attitude of my heart.

The fact that I play a piano I bought out of the want ads rather than play a concert grand from the music store (which would have cost more than I paid for my home, by the way) humbles my heart because God miraculously gifted me with a beautiful instrument and the gift of music.

In all of these places, I have been blessed. In all of these places, God has come near. In all of these places, I have wept with others, rejoiced with others, and listened to their hearts, as they have done for me.

God has drawn near in other places, as well, with possessions I have only held temporarily. A value menu sandwich filled the tummy of a homeless man instead of mine while we sat together on the curb in sub-freezing December temperatures. But there, while I sat next to him with my tummy grumbling, I was filled with gratitude. His tummy was now full and grateful. I heard his heart. I looked into his eyes. And I knew what mattered that day–not my sandwich, not my needs, not my collection of money to be spent on little things for myself that day or set aside for bigger things someday down the road–it was our hearts that mattered. What mattered was eternal, and God gave us both a perspective to see as He sees. This man heard of the love that Jesus has for him, that had searched him out even in this lowest of places. It was a holy moment as God drew near. He wept with me and this man. And He rejoiced with me and this man. And He heard both of our hearts. For this moment, I will ever be grateful.

Yes, for all these things, and much more, I will express gratitude rather than grumblitude. I am humbled by the grace of God that has searched me out even in my lowest of places.

So, whether you join me in my well-used car, on my well-used couch, in my well-used home, on a freezing concrete curb, or just through the words on this page, I pray you will hear how much God loves you and that His grace is searching for you.

Welcome to grace and gratitude.

But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
(Psalm 13:5-6 NKJV)

Text and photo by Francee Strain, November 28, 2019

I Forgot

I forgot. There are seasons in life when we hear these words uttered frequently. Childhood chores, anyone? Isn’t it funny how they are conveniently forgotten.

There are circumstances in life when we hear these words time and again. Dementia and some other chronic conditions cause memory loss.

It is always those people who forget and inconvenience us in the process, until it’s not. Yes, there are days in life when the words “I forgot” are uttered by the rest of us, even the perfectionists.

We do not tend to think of the phrase “I forgot” as a good thing, unless it benefits us somehow—like when we want people to forget our offenses against them, our mistakes, our failures, or that time we fell off the stage during the performance…or tripped up the steps before the performance even began.

There are times when this phrase, used in this way, is spoken through God’s actions: when He buries our sins in the deepest sea and remembers them no more, when He gives us mercies that are new every morning, when He gives us what we do not deserve. Yes, He continues to forget the things that could most definitely be held against us, even the infraction of forgetting Him.  When we are exercising spiritual amnesia, He continues to offer us grace.

There are other times that He does not forget. He does not follow the slogan of “set it and forget it.” He is constantly aware of what is happening in our world, down to the minutest detail. Even though a nursing mother may forget her child, we are told that He will not forget His people.* He is involved in the affairs of this life, and what is more, He cares about them. He never forgets to remember you. He loves you, whether you ever remember it or not.

I forgot the appointment, meeting, birthday, medication dosing time, that person’s name I met five seconds ago, and where I put my glasses and keys. I forgot to take meat out of the freezer, to reply to that email, and to RSVP to the invitation. In the state of my frazzled and harried brain, my jam-packed calendar, and my endless to-do lists, let it never be said that I forgot God. In spite of old age, busy schedules, too many irons in the fire, distractions galore, a preoccupation with worry, sleep-deprivation, my needs and wants, and simply being human, may I never forget the eternal, all-powerful, ever-present God. He is the reason I exist. In Him I can live and move and have my very being. He loves me and has a purpose for my life. May I never forget. May I always remember that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.**


* “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15 NKJV)

** See John 3:16

©Francee Strain, July 8, 2018