As this Thanksgiving week draws to a close, I find myself thinking about my Grandma Muriel – well, Grandma Mearl or Murl, really. No one who knew her pronounced it proper. Blame for that goes to her five brothers, the youngest of whom couldn’t pronounce it as a toddler.
Grandma was a tough cookie, but not in the way you might expect. When we say people are “tough” we usually mean that they are insistent, pushy, or strong-willed. “Tough people” drive others away with their harshness. But that’s not what I am talking about. I mean tough in a real way – enduring and true. I think you’ll see what I mean.
Grandma’s life was difficult, but you’d never hear her say that. She never complained. She wasn’t hard, or bitter, or jealous. In fact, what I remember most about my Grandma was her house, which was always open to me. It was my second home. Hanging on the wall at Grandma’s house was a framed picture showing a pair of empty shoes. A verse accompanied the shoes:
I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.
This is what I think of when I remember Grandma.
I told you she was tough.
Gratitude is slippery. It’s a difficult feeling to hang on to. It’s hard to stay grateful in a world that always wants you to compare yourself to everyone else. A world that wants you to want more. Of everything. All the time. My Grandma didn’t fall for all that worldly nonsense. She was always grateful for what she had, and she was at peace.
One day, not too long ago, I woke up worried. Worried about this and that. It was nothing concrete, just a sense that I didn’t have enough money, enough talent, enough patience, enough time. I couldn’t find any peace. That same day, I opened a book by Rob Bell, called Love Wins. I found this passage in Chapter 2:
“To covet is to crave what someone else has. Coveting is the disease of always wanting more, and it’s rooted in a profound dissatisfaction with the life God has given you. Coveting is what happens when you aren’t at peace.”
I was ashamed of myself. If coveting (wanting more) indicates that I am profoundly dissatisfied with my life, well – that’s just not true at all. I don’t feel that way in the least. I am blessed. I know it, and God knows it, so it’s time to show it.
Thinking of Grandma, and those empty shoes, I vowed to change my attitude. Just making that decision, that choice, brought me peace that day. It still does.
My new motto is: Choose Gratitude.