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Learning gratitude has a price

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

For many, this year has been full of bumps in the road, twists and turns, deadends and detours, but you are still moving. That's something to be thankful for.

It has been said, though in different terms, that it is through our most difficult times that the person we are inside is made strongest. We don't, however, always see the work in progress. We are blinded by our circumstances or our loss. We feel crippled by the shame or the pain. We are deafened by our own cries and screams. Essentially, we are unable to make sense of our experience. It is not usually during the storm, but after it passes over, that we begin to realize that we can make it.

The things that we've learned about ourselves have often come out of our troubles. Troubles make us think and thinking challenges what we thought we knew and forces us to expand our perception of what happens around us or to us. This expansion of perception, or how we come to see and make sense of our own experiences, is how we survive. It is how we grow. Our senses are made more alert, our thinking more critical, and our existence less painful. We become stronger in ways that ensure our continued ability to overcome, again and again. We are made thoroughly aware of any incongruence between the faith that we preach and the faith that we act upon. We learn who we are.

When we are in the process of learning who we are, we are simultaneously becoming stronger. There is strength in knowledge, and having knowledge of oneself is no different. When we are able to see our mistakes and greatest losses as opportunities and our darkest times as promises for brighter days ahead, we are then able to press our way.

Our inner person is like a muscle that has to be worked to become stronger. To consider our inner person as a muscle that has to be worked by the small and great trials of our lives, allows us to better appreciate such a metaphor.

Troubles don't last always. They come to pass and to leave us stronger than we were before. While it is difficult for us to see, our troubles are opportunities in disguise. They are opportunities not only for us to be made stronger, but for us to find new appreciation for the life that we have been given and all the people and things in it. We learn gratitude.

Learning gratitude, when you haven't been grateful, comes at a price. Sometimes it takes losing some things, some people, and even some parts of your sense of self through things like addictions and bad choices. Sometimes it takes having your legs taken from underneath you and plummeting to your lowest place before you are in the right position-to learn. Nevertheless, once you are in position, the process begins.

Though the learning process can appear as a storm, you emerge a more in tuned person on many levels with the wherewithal to persevere. You emerge a more grateful person with the common sense to count your blessings. You emerge a stronger person with the inner capacity to make it through a storm. You learn that you don't drown. You emerge. That's something to be thankful for.

Give thanks and be encouraged.

Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at ln_dunn@yahoo.com.