On the eve of Thanksgiving Day, I must admit an ugly truth—I am less interested in giving thanks for the things I have than I am counting the things I want. Never mind the Turkey Day, I want to skip straight to Black Friday. Being grateful isn’t nearly as much fun as being enticed. The admission sticks in my throat like a half-swallowed barb. How could I, of all people, be so unwilling to give thanks?
How bad could a little ingratitude really be?
Apparently, ingratitude breeds catastrophe. According the Bible, the ruin of our world actually occurred because humans were ungrateful. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God and ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, it introduced several curses including death to humans (Genesis 2-3). Such a calamity happened because Adam and Eve were ungrateful. Adam and Eve’s exalted position of fellowship with God was not enough. Being able to walk with the Creator of the Universe in the utopic Garden of Eden was not enough. Instead of being grateful and content with being made in the image of God and having direct fellowship with Him, Adam and Eve were tempted to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so that they could become like God. In demanding more, they actually chose for themselves much less. Whether you believe such a story to be fact or fiction is not the point. The point is that this story highlights the misery that occurs when we don’t give thanks.
This cautionary tale brings me back to this morning in which I sit in an attitude of ungratefulness for the things that I’ve been given. Never mind the fact that I sit with a full belly on a comfortable couch in a warm home with electricity to power the lights and keep the clothes tumbling in the dryer. Never mind the fact that I am surrounded by shelves filled with books, movies, and art. Never mind the fact that my husband and I actually have enough money to cover all of our bills this month. Never mind the fact that I have had a good amount of work lately to help cover those expenses. Never mind the fact that more people have been interested in my books and my photography than ever before. Never mind all of the good stuff.
A malcontent multiplies misery.
Instead of the warm home, I focus on the creaking floors cloaked in ragged carpet under my feet. Instead of the paid rent, I focus on windows that weep every other time it rains. Instead of the ample electricity, I focus on the flickering overhead light and the groaning, pint-sized refrigerator in our tiny kitchen. Instead of being thankful for the work that I now have, I focus on the fact that we could well be homeless in a few months if sales and jobs don’t pick up soon. Those major worries and minor annoyances are that have occupied my mind for the last month.
A few weeks ago, I met a woman in the middle of the grocery store whose home sits less than a mile from mine. When the tornado came whirling and swirling through our corner of Dallas last December, she and her husband hid inside a closet. That closet was one of the few things left standing after the clawing winds did their worst. When I met her eleven months later, she was buying toilet paper for the RV where she and her husband live because the repairs on their house still aren’t finished. She lives in a twenty-foot trailer and I live in an 850-square-foot apartment. And yet I am ungrateful.
During yet another grocery run, I had a homeless man offer to help me load my groceries into the car. My newest acquisitions took up the entire trunk of my vehicle while all that he owned fit inside a child’s backpack. He has so little and yet was still generous to me who had so much. And yet I am ungrateful.
Three years ago, my husband and I were far more affluent than we are now. We owned an 1800-square-foot house and had more than enough money from our jobs to pay for all of our needs. I often had the option of taking only those freelance projects that I found interesting and was able to work from home. We had so much, yet I was miserable.
What is wrong with me?
We had some friends where we lived, but most of our closest friends were scattered far beyond the desert sands we called home. We might have had a glut of material possessions, but I couldn’t have been more starved in emotional health. I was still reeling from the deaths of three loved-ones and the incapacitation of a fourth when we decided to move to Dallas, and that blood-stained view has colored my perception ever since.
Dallas was an opportunity to start anew—to make new friends, seek more cultural variety, and trade our easy but mundane living for a chance to make a true difference in the lives of others. And yet I’ve often been less than grateful that we took this chance. We’ve endured a lot to come here and to remain here, but we have also been amazingly blessed. My husband and I have found real purpose in this city that we didn’t have in the desert. Life is still hard and often discouraging, but the work is some of the most fulfilling that we could do.
Even with all of my worries weighing me down, I wouldn’t trade my life here for my life in the desert—not even for a second. I still don’t know how all of this will play out, but I do know that the God who faithfully led us through the desert is the same God who wants to restore us back to Eden. Whether we get back to Eden or not, I think is up to me and whether I’m willing to accept His good gifts just as they are or if I’m still more interested in eating the fruit of ingratitude plucked from that poisoned tree.
Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
The SCRAWLS blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!