End of the Challenge: Benefits of Radical Gratitude

pruningDear Pope Francis,

Yesterday marked the end of my 100 Days of Gratitude Challenge. In all honesty, while I was home I didn’t consciously think about the challenge. Getting back to Toronto, I realized how close I was to the end, because I had counted the days on my calendar. I’ve spent the last week reflecting both on my time at home and the challenge.

I was so grateful for my time at home. I didn’t realize just how burnt out I was until I stopped for a while. I saw the people I wanted to see, went where I needed to go and did the things I wanted to do. It’s easy to be grateful when things are good and I’m in a good space, both physically and mentally.

What is more difficult is to be grateful when things aren’t going well, when money is tight, when things are changing faster than you can keep up, when deadlines are looming. It is in these times I need to hang on tight and rely on God. Keeping faith can be hard. I’ve had my fair share of Doubting Thomas moments where I ask for proof of God’s love.

In hindsight, I realized that I did hang on through some tough stuff, and that radical gratitude helped me to hang on. It had to be radical gratitude though, because I am grateful for everything, including the pruning, challenges and change. I’m not grateful for the hard stuff because it made the good stuff even sweeter. I’m grateful for the hard stuff because it makes me stronger. I wouldn’t say that I relish suffering, necessarily, but I am grateful that I was strong enough to persevere, and continue to persevere, in faith.

My time at home was a bit of a reprieve from the stress and general hectic life I have when I’m in the city and in school. It gave me the space both physically and mentally to be able to see the last eight months for what they were, a rough patch in my life, and to name the lessons I learned in that time. I had the opportunity to get new perspectives from friends and family, and to start seriously looking forward.

I had to have an open disposition in order to receive these things, and having a radically grateful outlook helped create this disposition as well. If I had gone home with a chip on my shoulder, and spent the time at home allowing that chip to get deeper, then I would have received something very different from my time there. Instead, having a grateful outlook allowed me to have the openness to listen and learn, both to God in prayer, and the people around me.

Ultimately, this radical gratitude is not something I do for myself. It really is a grace from God. If I had tried to force myself to have the outlook I did, or do the things I do in order to heal, I likely would have ended up jaded and cynical. Instead, I can acknowledge that some things hurt and there was change, but that it was truly God’s plan. He gave me the grace and wisdom to see this. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Enjoying the sunshine,

Lauren

 

PS: For those who also kept up with the challenge, what did you learn? Let us know in the comments below.

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