A huge box of school snacks came in the mail today from Grandma. The kids and I are all caught up in a frenzy of excitement. I’m excited because I have one less shopping trip to make (oh, how my mother-in-law knows my heart!), and the kids are excited because Grandma always picks out the best snacks. My five-year-old son looks up, “We should call Grandma and thank her!” I have five kids, but only one remembered to stop and give thanks!
In the Gospel today, Christ performs a miraculous healing on ten sick persons, but only one out of the ten returns to give him thanks. Jesus says to the one who returns, “Your faith has saved you” (Lk 17:19). This remark is curious because the man was already healed, just as the other nine were. But it seems that the grateful man received a second gift. Something about his gratitude “saved” him.
Gratitude is more than an attitude. It literally expands your world and immediately makes it wonderful. You can’t be angry and grateful at the same time. Sometimes I get angry when my kids leave their dirty clothes on the floor, or turn simple things like getting dressed and out the door into a battle, or create another mess after we just cleaned! Given the thousands of irritations in the vocation of motherhood, it’s easy for a mama’s heart to slip into that angry and frustrated place. Unless you know the antidote.
Every day, I try to focus on at least three things that I’m receiving. Not only does it put me in a great mood, but I relish feeling so cherished and so loved. For example, I think of at least three things a day that my husband does for me, and I thank him. I think of the gifts I am receiving through my children, and I pause to receive them: that moment of cuteness, the sweet smile, the playful tease that leads to laughter. When I shift my focus from “Why is everything so irritating all the time!” to “Who is giving me a gift right now?” my world expands, and all of a sudden, I’m an adored wife and a happy mother. That’s the second gift that “saves” my soul from its narrow-minded view of my vocation: lots of frustration and little fun.
When I open my mind through gratitude, I realize how much more I have been given, which, it turns out, is actually a lot. So, when I feel like I’m falling into the pit of frustration, I turn to gratitude because it really is the second gift that “has saved you.”