My Response to Circumstances is a Choice

This was an interesting week. The lovely Mrs. Burchett acquired a brand new knee on Monday (so I was nursing and not musing last week). She is doing great and will be chasing grand kids in short order. The day before surgery a brief but violent storm took down multiple power poles in our neighborhood leaving us without power. We hoped it would be quickly resolved but the reports said we would likely be without power until Friday.

Now I had a conundrum dealing with a convalescing wife in a home without power. Do I curse the darkness (literally) or do I address the problem with determination and good cheer? That is a choice. I would venture that any energy wasted on complaining and assigning blame is wasted energy. I put out a call to friends and family for a generator. We found one and had the generator up and running by Monday night. We were able to power the refrigerator, a lamp, a coffee pot (surprise) and a couple of fans. From that modest base we were able to do everything we needed to do to take care of my beautiful patient. Urban camping actually became kind of a fun challenge as the days went by. I turned on the light switch every single time I walked into a dark room proving how much I am a creature of habit. Flashlights were my constant companion. The unexpected blessing was not watching any television news.

After we figured out how to navigate this inconvenience I thought about the timing of this event. It was not the best time for a power outage but we made it work. I thought about how blessed we are to have power, internet, appliances and all of the things we take for granted 99 percent of the time. My inconvenience is the everyday existence for much of the world and often a hundred times worse. My cold shower reminded me of the blessing of hot water that I rarely am thankful for. I did learn that cold showers could be a tremendous water saving feature.

I spent a lot of time last week being grateful for what I have and generally take for granted. Gratitude is the stabilizer for my spiritual walk. I think I can make a pretty good case that growing a grateful heart is the foundational attitude of the fruit of the Spirit—love,joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is that important. Gratitude keeps me from envy, if I can mentally pivot to the many things I am blessed to enjoy. Gratitude keeps me from anger, if I can be grateful for how patient God is with my myriad of shortcomings. Gratitude keeps me from frustration, when it reminds me how much worse things could be. I have programmed a trigger into my gratitude response. When I start getting cranky about my back pain, I think of my friend Mike (and others) who live in constant pain. I become grateful that my pain is not constant, and I am reminded to pray for them. A simple mind-set change can take me from self-pity to prayer for others.

I am also asking God to give me a heart to pray for anyone who makes me angry with his or her thoughtlessness or rudeness. What is hurting that person’s heart so much that the response is filled with such venom? Full disclosure . . . I am not there by any means. But when I can respond with an attitude of gratitude, it is the most freeing feeling. Maybe that is the best way to be grateful consistently. When I get outside my little world and see the suffering and sadness around me, I fall to my knees in thanksgiving for how fortunate I am.

Would you join me in meditation on these two verses this week? We can’t control our circumstances but we can control our response. Gratitude is a great foundation to build from.

 Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17

Part of this post was excerpted from Waking Up Slowly. Check it out for 21 ways to become more connected to God and others.