We think life should have been different
We expect things to go a certain way
But then the circumstances change
And we allow this to ruin our days
We hold on tightly to our plans
And this makes us feel distraught
But in the grand scheme of things
Perhaps we need to release our oughts
Some interruptions that come our way
Are divine blessings to embrace
Perhaps God put them in our path
As a gift of His goodness and grace
When we learn to trust God
Amidst many stops and starts
We finally begin to understand
He has our best interest at heart
Letting go of our rules and plans
We have a whole new attitude
Our stress level melts away
And we look at life with gratitude
One thing that trips me up when it comes to having an attitude of gratitude is when I am stressed and overwhelmed. That is when I find myself complaining a lot. My life has had a lot of that lately and I have been trying to dig deep to see why I get so anxious during those times.
A pattern I am seeing in my own life has to do with “interruptions.” These are small things in our day or large things in our lives that send us in a different direction. I see them as things that upset my “expectations,” even if these expectations are subconscious. Big or small, if things don’t go the way we planned or expect, it can ruin our attitude.
For example, perhaps your child forgot their lunch at home and you had to bring it to them at school. You didn’t plan for this, you didn’t expect this to happen, your day was interrupted, and it caused you stress. Or perhaps you expected to get a certain project accomplished on a particular day, but you were interrupted. You didn’t get to focus on what you wanted to focus on and had to change paths. You didn’t plan for this. And the new assignment brings more stress.
For me, these little things cause me to complain, especially if my stress level is already high.
What messes our life up most is the expectation of what our life is supposed to look like. – Ann Voskamp
(Yes, I realize I have mentioned Ann Voskamp three weeks in a row!)
I’ve been thinking about the stress, the interruptions and the expectations recently and I can see another layer as to why these things bother me. Let’s take the second example from above. Why am I so frustrated about having to change tasks? Because subconsciously I equate this to not being enough. I wasn’t able to accomplish what I set out to accomplish. I will complain about the change of plans, when truly, I just want to prove that I can do it all. And we have come around full circle because this points to perfectionism and our high expectations for ourselves. We think that if we were better, smarter, or more efficient, then we could do it all. But the truth is that none of us are enough. But God is! (I might write more on this concept in a future post?)
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in difficulties, in behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
And perhaps we have high expectations for other people too. Like the kid who forgot his lunch. It was an honest mistake (in all likelihood). Yet we allow it to rattle us.
Recently this is how I have felt a lot. Overwhelmed and stressed, with many things coming at me. I don’t have the time or ability to do everything. And I see how this directly impacts my attitude of gratitude. So I am trying to let my expectations go. I am trying to gracefully allow interruptions in my day. I am trying to remember that everything that comes into my life is not a surprise to God.
And maybe these interruptions in our days are divinely orchestrated. Do you remember one of the many survival stories we heard from September 11, 2001? There was a guy who was wearing a new pair of shoes that day, and they gave him a blister. I could imagine at the time many of us would have been frustrated because we were late for work. Well this guy had to stop for a Band-aid, and that ultimately saved his life. May this story help us to humbly embrace the unexpected things that come our way.
If minor inconveniences, interruptions, high expectations, or even the feeling of not enough tend to cause you stress and thus take away your joy, then I am with you. But I am learning to hand these things over to God. He is in full control. We are not. When we hold our plans loosely in our hands and allow Him to take the wheel, we will have so much more peace. And this will remove a roadblock on our path to gratitude.
Perhaps the examples in this post didn’t resonate with you, but you are having trouble embracing gratitude? If so, then you might have to take time to see what particular roadblocks are in your way. Prayerfully seek God’s guidance. It is possible to pave a new path and it is worth it.
For further insight, check out these posts:
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas