I planned a special treat for my kids, 6-year-old Sara and 4-year-old Jack. I was taking them to a movie - one that they both wanted to see - at an actual movie theater. I woke them up and told them that we had a couple errands and then I had a surprise for them.
The morning was infused with guesses and their anticipation was almost palpable...Sara and Jack were so excited. I took them for a quick lunch then told them on the way to theater where we were going and what we were going to see. They were thrilled. And I felt like I had scored some huge Mommy points with my kids. So we went - we had a great time - they were on the edge of their seats, enjoying every moment of the movie. Then the lights came up.
No "Thank you, Mommy" left the lips of either of my kids. In fact, Sara even had the gall to say, "Can we go one more place before we go home, Mommy? That wasn't a good enough surprise." I was immediately angered by their ingratitude, by their greed, by their lack of appreciation for the two hours I had just given up, not to mention the 15 bucks.
But those feelings were quickly pushed aside by sadness...sadness that I had raised children who lived so in the moment that they couldn't appreciate their most recent gifts. Sadness that they had almost already forgotten the fun they had just had, and that I was the one who had given it to them. And then just hurt...because that was not what I had expected or hoped would be the outcome of that gift.
Oh, but isn't this us? Ungrateful. Forgetful. The house that we had to have, prayed for, even delighted in for awhile...now seems too small or outdated, simply lacking. The husband we couldn't imagine our lives without now sends us to our knees saying, "Why did You let me marry this man, God??" The kids we longed for, hoped for...who of us hasn't said, "Being a mom is so hard, Lord - I can't handle this! I don't want to handle this!" Even the dream that was fulfilled - the dream that enlarged our faith in God...even that can become blurry with the deceptive hands of time, leaving us asking for a new dream, this time even bigger, 'so I can know that it really is from Your hand, Father."
A friend of mine said, "Most of our complaints, our requests for help in prayer, are about blessings in our life, if you think about it...even things we asked for." The house (money pit), the husband (why can't he meet my needs?), the kids (they drive me crazy!), the dream (one more time, God - the last one wasn't a good enough surprise)...all things we asked for. All things we always wanted. Never good enough for the ungrateful...never recent enough for the forgetful.
I want to be a woman of gratitude. I want to be a remember-er of God's goodness and gifts in my life. I want the joy of the anticipation that comes out of a knowledge that the Giver in my life can be trusted, that He is actually grateful for me, and that He will never, ever forget who I am and that I am His.
Elisabeth K. Corcoran is the author of Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom's Weary Soul (2001), which can be purchased directly through her publisher, Kregel Publications at #1-888-644-0500 or by clicking here. It may also be purchased at amazon.com, christianbook.com, or through your local Christian bookstore. This column is original and not excerpted from her book. © Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2003