A grateful heart fully acknowledges all the good that is in life…as well as all that has been shared with us by others, perhaps sacrificially on their part. We need to take the time to truly ponder the significance of what we are given…not just things like a roof over our head, clothes to wear and food on the table, but the people who care about us and long to show their love in whatever way they can.
Are we truly grateful? Or, do we feel entitled? Many people in this world experience terrible hardships, including huge loss in both possessions and the people whom they love. And yet we often hear stories of how thankful they are for the life they still have. The ability to have a grateful heart in the midst of great difficulty strengthens us with hope to keep living, knowing that the here and now is not the end story.
Polio changed my life dramatically at the age of 3-1/2 months and has impacted my world ever since. Many people may see only what it took from me (and there have been times I grieved that as well) but I see so much good that has come as a result. Good people have fixed my wheelchairs, helped me with creative projects I couldn’t do alone, opened their heart because “I would understand”, believed that I could do so much more than even I thought possible. My disability has taught me many things: patience in waiting, a deeper understanding of people and life, how to analyze and problem-solve, determination and perseverance…it has also opened doors to many opportunities that I likely would not have had otherwise. I am grateful for the people who took the time to get to know my heart and loved me through the years…who knew I could do whatever I set my mind to and that together we’d find a way to make it happen.
Being grateful doesn’t automatically make the hardship disappear…it does, however, change our perspective in the situation. It opens our eyes to learn from those who reach out to others in the midst of their own difficulties. We all carry our individual burden but as we honestly open our hearts to each other it will become evident that our load gets a little lighter as we allow others in. We don’t need to feel inadequate because others see our vulnerability…it may be the very opportunity someone needs to be a blessing to us in what they can offer. Our desire is that others will receive what we give in the same way.
Our attitude of gratefulness will soften our own heart and the hearts of those who touch our life…it will break down barriers and allow people to be real. Gradually a shift will take place…more faith, more love, more hope. This is my prayer, as someone who is still learning how to have a grateful heart.