Monday, March 17

the simple power of gratitude

Today didn’t start out great.

I woke up grumpy. I showered grumpy. I penciled my eyebrows grumpy. (Corrected the smudges grumpy, too.) I squished myself into the train grumpy. Then I sat down at my desk and was grumpy again. I waited for the grumpy to go away. It didn’t.

I don’t do anything halfway. (SURPRISE.) I’m built to contain extreme amounts of feeling, and I’ve accepted that. But I know I wasn’t designed to feel this grumpy, either. So there I was.

My heart's been out of whack all week. In between processing the fact that my family is moving far away and NYC is going to become my permanent home, I confronted friends but just ended up hurting them, was painfully honest with another friend but just ended up getting hurt myself, and generally was scared by the day-to-day physical void where my family and college community used to be and the intimidating prospect of starting over with a brand-new community again. (Not to mention I terrified myself by realizing that I finally hypothetically could be ready to date again. Trust me when I say that I tried my usual remedy and listened to “Ridin’ Solo” like five times in a row at work and it did not help me feel any less hypothetically romantic.)

To avoid suffocating in the grumpy, I had to get outside. I went to the Starbucks around the corner, walking in the sunshine, and got something sweet with the gift card Mrs. Fung randomly sent me. Walking back to the office coffee in hand, I knew something needed to change. But what was the fix? How to heal these big mysteries and insecurities? Bluhhhhh.

And then this radical idea, kudos of the Holy Spirit, finally came to me in the form of this wild idea:
What if instead of focusing on the things I don’t have, I focus on the blessings I’m experiencing right now?

WHAAAT? I know. Anticlimactic. Sorry it’s not actually radical. It’s pretty much the most “duh” spiritual moment a person can have – “golly gosh, if I’m thankful I see everything the way God intended me to experience reality!” YES OF COURSE DUH. Should be simple, right? 

Oh, friends…the immense power of five minutes of thankfulness.

I sat down. Plugged in my headphones and put on a great song. Opened the lid of my coffee and savored it as if it were the first I’d ever had – watched the steam roll over the rim, slurped the foam, let my brownie melt all over my fingers. Then I got out my pen and wrote a list of what I was thankful for today: my family, my friends, this job, my apartment, spring, the cross…

Those five minutes of gratitude transformed me from a scared child into a bold liver-of-life. (I’ve been reading/thinking in French a lot lately, so the stronger word I wanted to use there is tenirje tiens a la vie. A holder-onto or gripper of life.) It is a gift given to me for the living, not for the complaining or the drifting.

I will not waste any more of my precious life fretting for what I do not have. Instead, I’ll hold on thankfully to what I have already been given and let go of my feeble attempts at being okay without the Lord.

The remedy to brokenness is a gentle, healing Jesus.
The remedy for overwhelming darkness is the true light.
So the remedy for grumpiness is gratitude.


  1. Amen sister! So good. Gratitude transforms our daily experiences. Praise the Lord for His good gifts. It is so much more refreshing to spend our energy looking for things to be thankful for in the midst of hard times rather than worrying or just feeling blah. I deeply desire to be a more thankful person. Praise God for His grace.

  2. Hey Joanna! This is pretty much constantly what I am trying to remember...and your family is moving away???

  3. Hey Joanna! This is pretty much constantly what I am trying to remember to kudos for breathing that truth in! Annnnnddd what is this about your family moving?