I’m attempting to start a recurring theme–Thankful Thursday–to cultivate more of a life of gratitude. In a book by Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, the author speaks of the connection between gratitude and joy. Gratitude leads to joy, and the opposite of joy is not sadness, but fear. Replacing fear with gratitude produces joy.
Many of the circumstances in my life have brought about fear and anxiety, so I’m going to combat them with gratitude.
I’m particularly grateful this week for a friend who asked me to coffee when I was feeling completely overwhelmed with a family situation. She was not aware of the stress. God sent her to me to bring relief and empathy.
Today is the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, a solemnity in the Church as we remember the lives of these two pillars of Christianity. One of the readings today is from Acts 12.1-11, concerning St. Peter and his miraculous release from prison. Herod had imprisoned him, and the night before he was to be brought out before the people, an angel from God was sent to release him. He was in an impossible situation, “sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison” (v.6). Then the angel appeared, struck Peter, and ordered him to dress. The chains fell off and he followed the angel out of the prison. It was so impossible that Peter didn’t believe it was actually happening until he had walked an entire street into the city.
St. Peter’s story gives me hope. I see Our Lord showing me what He can do, no matter how difficult or how impossible. And this is not the first instance of His making the impossible possible. A virgin conceived without knowing a man and bore a son. Old women bore children at ages far past their fertile years. The fiercest persecutor of Christians became the most instrumental in converting thousands to the Faith. What is my impossible situation to all this? And yet He cares. He sees and He acts. Probably not in the way I would imagine, but would St. Peter have imagined an angel from God kicking his side and telling him to get up and follow him out of the jail? Our God is not limited by the impossible.
It’s been on my heart recently that my extended family relationships are not all that I’d like them to be. I have two brothers whom I speak to only rarely though we are on good terms; a still-living grandmother and grandmother-in-law whom I love; a mom and a dad; not to mention my mother and father-in-law, nieces, nephews and brothers and sisters-in-law. I love all these people dearly, but I rarely see them, much less converse with them. Part of the reason for this lack of family connection is certainly the distance–we live in New England, they live in the Mid- and Southwest. Even still, many far-flung families seem to have vibrant relationships full of communication. Why not mine?
For my part, it’s sheer laziness. It is difficult for me to put forth the effort. As an introverted type, communicating my thoughts in spoken language is not my strength. Why don’t I write letters? I could. Again, laziness. Love is a verb, not a feeling. It’s a choice, an action. St. James says “Faith…if it has no works, is dead” (2.17). Love is the same. Relationship cannot survive without communication, without some tangible proof of love.
So I pray to God to spur me on to love those he has given me, to inspire me to show them all a tangible proof of my love for them.