Tuesday, January 12, 2016

THAT LIFE CHANGING, GRATITUDE, ATTITUDE





I hope Dr. Paul Wong doesn’t object to my quoting him here. His words were the motivating force, the inspiration that moved me to even attempt a commentary on the subject.

[Quote] Gratitude means much more than having a grateful attitude, cultivating a spirit of appreciation, or focusing on one’s blessings. In its fullest sense, gratitude springs from a heart touched by God and overflows from a soul basking in God’s goodness. [End Quote]

I can, if I focus hard enough, recall a time when I knew nothing of gratitude. I suppose it was immaturity that restricted such thoughts. Young minds simply live in the moment, events happen because they are supposed to happen or they wouldn’t happen at all. Perhaps that was my earliest understanding of fate or destiny.

Later in life I began to think along the lines that we make our own destiny and there was no such thing as fate. Anything that came my way in life was due to the fact that I allowed it to happen. Had I been on my toes, alert and observant, I could have seen it coming.

My own Father had instilled in me a thought directly from scripture; you will make your living by the sweat of your brow. At the time, I didn’t know it had its roots in scriptures. That thinking was reinforced a little later down the road of life when a kind stranger offered me this sage advice. The world does not owe you anything just because you exist in it. It really doesn’t care if you live or die. Life will go on whether you are here or not. You will get out of life a result that is equal to the effort you put into it.

So, is it any wonder that I came to rely upon myself for everything I had in this world?

The day came when I looked around myself and went through a process of summing up what I had accomplished in life. The results below the bottom line caused a great pride to rise up within me. I finally had arrived. I was a success. The good life was here, at my very fingertips. I had it all, everything I had ever dreamed of in the way of personal desires.

I was forty-three years old. I had broken the forty year barrier, an age that at one time in my life, I didn’t believe I would ever see. It was okay by me; I didn’t relish the thought of growing old anyway. I had gotten to where I wanted to be, so now what? Can I just relax and take it easy, rest on my laurels so to speak?

Everywhere I looked I saw good things. Who did I have to thank for all of it?  ME!  So this is what life is supposed to be, but wait; shouldn’t I be satisfied and content with my lot? If any of it was true, why did I still have this sense that something was missing? If I could discover what it was, surely I could find a way to have it for myself and finally be completely fulfilled and content.

Suddenly I saw myself as self-centered and selfish and all that I had accomplished in life hadn’t amounted to a hill of beans in the greater scheme of things. In my haste to get to where I wanted to be, I had touched the lives of countless others. I used them and took from them anything I needed and not once did I ever say thanks. I gave them no credit for their contributions to my life and there was something sad about that fact.

In the wake of my passing, I had left others less than they were before they had come to know me. Always taking, never giving anything back; that seemed so wrong to me and the next thing I knew, I was full of guilt. If everyone in the world were exactly like me, I doubted that the world could have continued to exist for as long as it has. The resource I had been drawing from had to have limits, I didn’t see it as infinite. Go to that well once to often and one day the bucket would come up empty and what then?

If one has no desire to face reality then you had better keep your head down and don’t stop moving and yet, even that method fails at times. With your head down and moving along at breakneck speed, the odds are that sooner or later you’re going to run into something solid and unmovable. It will be a terrible collision and one’s life is likely to end up a total wreck.

Taking stock of one’s own life will exact a price. You will notice things that can’t be attributed to one’s own efforts. Take something as simple as having good health. Can you take credit for it? Can you chalk it up to having good genes? You have to admit that your diet stinks. Honesty will only serve to drive home truth and it’s a real EGO buster. You’ve been abusing your body for a long time now. Why hasn’t it broken down?  That fancy car you drive would have given up the ghost a long time ago had you treated it the same way you have your body. You are intelligent enough to understand that so you head off the potential problems by buying a new car every three years or so. Where does one go to buy a new body?

When one considers all the elements that constitute a single human life experience they will come to realize that many of them are outside the limits of one’s own control or influence. Think about the friends you have; that is, if you have any. What about love? Is there anyone in your life who genuinely loves you?  Can you chalk that up to the fact that you are so loveable? If you are not in control of these elements of your life; who is?  Surely someone is responsible; but whom? When you look around at other people, some of them have problems that you wouldn’t wish upon your worse enemy. The amazing thing is that many of them seem to be so happy with the hand that life has dealt them. Then you observe others who seem to have everything and still, all they do is complain. 

I don’t understand why it should be so, but some of us need to hit bottom before we can look up and ask for help. It took me a while to get there, it’s not like I was in freefall. Depression is a slow descent into hell on earth. It’s funny how nothing in my physical world had changed. It was a mental, emotional rollercoaster I had gotten on. The climb to the top was slow; the drop into darkness was even slower if you can imagine such an amusement park ride. You see; gravity has no affect on one’s attitude.

When one is surrounded by impenetrable darkness they have no choice but to feel around to get some sense of where they are. One can’t use their hands to accomplish it, but we are more than flesh and blood, bones and sinew; we are spirit and soul too.

That was the situation I found myself in one day and I was desperate. I summoned the will to reach out into the darkness and was surprised to find that God was reaching out to touch me at the same time. Once He had touched me, I had a new problem to deal with. There was this blinding light that no one can gaze into with natural eyes. They would melt in the strength of such radiance. But, what one can do in such a revealing light is see every little flaw and defect in themselves. It couldn’t be any clearer if one affixed labels to every one, giving them identifications and sorting them out into classifications.  Some would fall under the heading of “Seven Deadly” others were “Willful” but they all were SINS.

Believe it or not, sins have weight but not because of gravity. There is GUILT associated with them and guilt has weight in the supernatural, spirit realm. When one’s sins are recognized they become a burden; a crushing weight that no human spirit can bear up under. Forgiveness is the only thing that can lift such a burden and set the spirit free. I called out to God to forgive me and He heard my voice. God spoke and that burden was lifted, removed and done away with. In His realm, it may have been little more than a whisper, but to myself it was a noise that reverberated throughout the universe.

When I became aware of ME again, I knew that something had changed. I wasn’t the same person anymore. It would take time for me to understand all that was different about this new me. A heart that was like stone was replaced by one that was full of compassion and love. Eyes that saw so little were suddenly able to see all that was good in life and not one of them was something material. It was the scope of my new vision that was most revealing. It would compare to someone being shot into space, turning around and looking back at the earth. To be able to see one’s whole life within the framework of one image and yet, be able to focus in on one pebble on a mountainside or one grain of sand on a beach. From that viewpoint, it is easy to see precisely how “Blessed” one is and to be grateful for each blessing.

How did Dr. Wong say it? “gratitude springs from a heart touched by God and overflows from a soul basking in God’s goodness.”

That’s it Paul!  That’s exactly what each day is like for me today.

 



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