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Gratitude for the mundane

Photo by Jenna Norman on Unsplash

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. Then, I learned I had a hormone condition that would make conceiving and carrying a child to term a challenge. A few years later, I asked my doctor what interventions it was going to take so I could get pregnant. The first round of instructions was given, and I had a plan for year one of trying to make a small human. I was ready to give up when I discovered I was pregnant. I had been praying for months to accept God’s timing and God’s will not my own. I prayed earnestly clear through some challenges and a difficult birth. When I held that tiny baby, I promised I would never take a moment with her for granted.

Fast forward six months and the routines of parenthood were wearing me down. The chores piled up as did the challenges. I was reminded one day, I had exactly the life I had prayed for. I was privileged to be raising my healthy child. That Lent I took up a practice of intentional gratitude, I started a blog where I wrote every day for forty days about my day and where I could practice gratitude. I blogged there regularly for several years. The practice of intentional gratitude has not left me. In fact, it has become engrained in my daily life.

This practice carried me through the loss of family members, seminary with a toddler, financial challenges, my first call, a car accident, failed fertility treatment, moves, my second call, and currently it is carrying me through the pandemic and divorce at the same time. I suspect that pandemic life has not been easy on any of us. Especially in such divided times, when the news is constantly terrible, this is not an effortless time to be living in. That’s before we worry about our families’ safety, our churches, the challenges churches are facing in light of the pandemic dragging on, the divisiveness that overflows even into our sacred spaces. I have found it helpful to find at least one thing I am grateful for as I drift off to sleep. Somedays, like today, this is more challenging than others.

Photo by Justus Menke on Unsplash

I had a rough morning, every little thing that could become a challenge did. There were issues with ice that canceled an event for my side gig. The ice also slowed me down as I tried to run a mask for my kid to the bus stop. My hot shower turned cold when I was covered in soap. I stepped out of the shower shivering. Finding an old bathrobe, I wrapped up and turned on Spotify’s “happy mix.” I decided to indulge in some fancy hot chocolate that I had been gifted. While I waited for the water to get hot again, I could at least relax. I took down a mug, also a gift, and began my preparations, deciding to live on the edge and use the milk frother that also came as a gift.

The gifts of three women who love me all combined to bring me a little indulgence on this otherwise miserable morning. That is when I learned you should never use the frothing gadget in a full cup. Its exuberant exit from my mug was nothing short of art. Sticky, wet, potentially smelly, art all over my kitchen, floor, ceiling fan, and cabinets — no surface was spared.

It was then that I just started laughing because, if I didn’t, I might fall on the kitchen floor and sob for a few days (which is also necessary sometimes). I cleaned up my mess, mug in hand, and went back upstairs to drink and check the water temperature.

There was indeed hot water, and I was able to continue my morning routine in complete creature comfort. I found myself filled with serious gratitude that this was not the day I had to learn to fix the hot water heater. Perhaps this tiny bit of gratitude is where the secret lies. Often, we think of gratitude as being caught up in the big things of life: food, shelter, church, grace, our kids, and so on. But gratitude as a spiritual practice focuses on the small things. It is in celebrating that I don’t have to fix the hot water heater. It’s being grateful for all the things I have been able to fix on my own. I am absolutely grateful for all the amazing things in my life, but gratitude for the mundane has shaped my spiritual journey. I would love to hear what you are grateful for this day!