My youngest daughter and I drove in painful silence on our way to pick up some dinner. The last few hours had been filled with inconvenience and frustration, and I may have yelled at her a little, ok a lot, when she didn’t respond to something the way I wanted her to.
In reality, her response had been perfectly reasonable, but because I was grumpy from my day, I wasn’t thinking about reasonable. In fact, I had quietly been waiting for a moment like this when I could take out my frustrations on someone else, and she presented the perfect opportunity.
We pulled into the parking lot, and I probably sighed as I turned off the car and walked to the restaurant. As we rounded the corner, I noticed the same homeless man who often greets us upon our arrival. I hadn’t seen him in a while and wondered how he was doing. (This is the same man I wrote about here.)
As we walked, we could see him, but he couldn’t see us. I watched as he clasped his hands tightly, raised them up in the air, and with the most sincerity I had heard all day, he prayed. With closed eyes and head towards the sky, he humbly proclaimed, “God, you are so good to me. Thank you. Thank you for good people.” There was a humble disbelief in his tone as if he couldn’t believe that God would give him such a bounty.
And then he opened his eyes, surprised to see me standing there and smiled, “Well, Hi!! How have you been?”
We talked for a while and I asked if he needed anything. He smiled and told me he had dinner and then held up a Chipotle gift card. He closed his eyes again and said, “And someone just gave me this which will be great for tomorrow. I am so blessed.” And with an earnestness that is difficult to describe, he smiled at me and said, “God is SO good to me.”
McKenzie and I quietly walked into the store, and I stood pretending to stare at the menu while I fought the urge to cry.
I wrapped my arms around McKenzie, and she hugged me back, and I found myself wondering about gratitude.
I ate three meals today. I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t thank God for one of them. Not even a quick, “Thanks for this food.”
I am not saying this to beat myself up, but it’s important for me to think about it.
When was the last time I clasped my hands together with all of my strength and through tears just thanked God for being so good to me?
This man has no family, no home and isn’t always sure where his next meal is coming from, but he offered God more gratitude than I have in weeks.
Anne Voskamp recently told of a conversation she had with a little girl at a birthday party. The girl confessed to Ann that being at her sibling’s birthday party was hard because she knew she was “going to feel her tummy tighten into knots when everyone handed her sister all the presents, when her sister got the stage and the candles and the cake.”
I so appreciate that little girl’s honesty.
And I so appreciate what the little girl’s mom gave her to hold onto at that party.
A piece of paper that said, “I get enough.”
That she would get enough gifts and cake and celebrating.
Wide eyed, that little girl held up that paper to Ann and said, ““I am not ever losing this. Because I can’t forget it — or that’ll ruin everything: I get enough.”
I love that.
What would we say aloud if we were really honest?
I know the truth is that instead of telling myself that I get enough, I often hear myself saying, “It’s never enough.”
I always want more if I am honest.
Steve cleaned out the garage the other day and I found myself saying, “We need to work on the basement next.”
I am not even sure I said thank you for the garage.
I enjoy a fun evening with friends of deep conversation and connection, and I immediately want another night just like that.
I have a day to myself to read and pray and rest, and the next day I think, “Why can’t I have two days like that.”
I could go on….but that could get really embarrassing.
What if instead of always quietly thinking, “What’s next,” I was able to just say “Thank you.”
I get enough.
The man at Chipotle reminded me that it is often about gratitude.
A small shift in perspective that makes a huge difference.
I could easily look at him and think, “Gosh. A year later, he is still sitting in the same spot, asking for help.”
But couldn’t I say the same thing about myself? A year later, I am still struggling to remember that I get enough.
And today I am grateful for that angel of a man who reminded me that regardless of our circumstances, we can still be thankful.
And not just a “go through the motions, shoulder shrugging oh thanks,” but deep, sincere, humble gratitude.
I get enough.
Truth is I get more than enough.
Let’s not forget that there is always hope to start again.
St. Benedict once prayed, “Always we begin again.”
So today, I do just that. And with clasped hands lifted up, I humbly come before my Lord and say, “Thank you.”
Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.