Nurturing Our Gratitude: Not Just for the Churchfolk

First United Methodist Church in Montgomery, LA
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To hear church folk tell it, the only way, or most effective way of being thankful for the blessings in your life is to find a church and attend services every Sunday at the very least.

Well, I did that when I was in high school. My parents were avid church-goers and we lived in a small community of avid church-goers. It’s what  you did on Sunday without question. There was always something for everybody: Youth Day, youth choir, adult choir, Sunday school, bible studies, breakfasts, dinners, community events. Our church: Waugh United Methodist Church – kept its members busy and I enjoyed it back then.

But since then, I haven’t gone on a regular basis. Once in a while, I’ll get an invitation to go to a particular church event, or I’ve on occasion just decided to visit a church, but I truly don’t have the desire to go every Sunday. But despite the church folk mantra that humility, gratitude, and a healthy respect for the spiritual world can only be found within those brick mortars, those are all characteristics that guide my life.

I don’t need a church service or the bible to instruct me to offer someone help who needs it;  to practice understanding rather than judgement; or to recognize that there but for grace go I.

I’m a firm believer in education: I believe that everyone is teachable; that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks; that your negative past doesn’t have to be your future. So I do believe that gratitude can be taught if the person learning it is receptive to its concept. I’m thankful though, that I didn’t need to learn it – I’ve always lived it.

When my three daughters and I first moved to Baltimore and I had no job and no prospects, I was grateful we still had a roof over our heads and food to eat.

When I began feeling restless with  my job as a staff writer for the Baltimore AFRO Newspaper, I was grateful that I had the presence of mind to prepare: I used my extra cash to train to be a certified nursing assistant so that I’d have a steady income –  and made the choice to write from home.

When my Mom died, I lost my job at Sinai Hospital, I still had rent to pay and I wasn’t sure what my next move was, I was grateful for agency work. I spent that summer working with two agencies, spreading myself between three hospitals, on public transportation – having to keep an organizer so that I could keep up with where I was working on any particular night.  One night I found myself heading towards Johns Hopkins Hospital when I should have been heading for Greater Baltimore Medical Center! Not an easy fix when you have to jump off a bus and wait for another bus – or two – to get you where you need to go!

But I made it work. And I believe my gratitude for what I did have in my life, helped me make it work. No matter what I could find to complain about, there was always something to detour my thoughts.

I’m thankful that I’ve made it this far in my life; grateful for any physical, spiritual, or emotional assistance that helped me get here. And I hope to keep living my life with my eyes open and my thoughts positive so that I can continue allowing that gratitude to soak in.

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