My son is blowing bubbles in the backyard. My baby daughter is fascinated. She watches them for awhile and then, like everything a baby sees, she wants to hold it. As soon as her chubby fingers touch it the bubble bursts and I see her face fall. This plays out over and over and over again (the tenacity runs deep in this one) until she finally gives up and moves on to the next distraction.
I’m trying to be more grateful. I’m one of those people that struggles to see the sunny side. My husband, who God bless him is the exact opposite, has got to be tired of attempting to pull me over to his view of life. I’m the cliche “glass half empty” realist. Although I suspect “realist” is a false descriptor. I’m willing to bet that the balance of positive to negative in reality is all based on perception. I’m making lists in my head and on paper of the things I have to be thankful for to force me out of this natural lean towards complaining.
This exercise in thankful living includes braiding daily quiet time into my life. I’m using the baby’s nap time for this. That means ranking that time above dishes, above laundry, and definitely above mindless TV or internet. Some days I listen to a podcast, some days I read scripture and journal, some days I sit and stare at the wall and listen to the quiet that is so incredibly rare and exquisite in my home. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now. And while my home looks worse than ever, I feel it paying off.
I heard a sermon once about Moses and the burning bush and how God didn’t speak to him until he saw that Moses had taken the time to stop what he was doing and look at the bush. God speaks when we stop. I’m sure that’s not always the case- and I’m one of the least qualified people in the world to interpret scripture- but isn’t it easier to hear when we aren’t distracted? And in our culture of distraction how often are we actively, actually listening?
Now that I’m trying to listen, here’s what I’m hearing. Hold on to this life loosely. Nothing I have is truly mine. We grasp and claw at things and belongings and people and reputations when we can hold on to none of them. We reach for the bubble to hold on to it with all our limited strength- only to see it eventually break and disappear. Wouldn’t it be better to watch them float by-admire their beauty? To let them slip away and not feel less for it. To see each moment and task we have in front of us as what it is- temporary. To marvel at the fact that we are breathing and living at all but to know it is a short state of affairs- and to not fight that.
I would love to have a checklist I could post for how to do this. I don’t. I just know I’m tired of letting the fearful “what ifs” be my guiding light. I will keep fighting the negative spiral of thinking that so often leads me to sadness. I will search for joy and meaning in my days even when it seems like there is so little. I will hold lightly to both the gifts and challenges I have been given and not let either define me. I will fail terribly at this over and over and over again- but my daughter’s tenacity had to come from somewhere and I’m hoping it runs deep in me too.