Jen Scheuermann had a wake-up call about gratitude when she realized the need to respond graciously when her plans were interrupted.
During the week I have a routine. Before getting ready for work, while my house is still quiet and dark, I light a candle, grab my coffee, and settle into my favorite chair. Taking a few moments to calm my random thoughts, I try to recreate the stillness where I hear Him best.
Whether reading a devotional, preparing for a Bible study meeting, or writing in my prayer journal, I relish the “one-on-one” time to which He has called me. Easily one of my favorite times of day, it fills me with a peace that lingers for hours to come.
Unfortunately, there are days when my morning prayer time is interrupted. It’s typically on a weekend or holiday when I’ve attempted to sleep late while still “squeezing in” my morning quiet time before my family wakes. The problem is I don’t know when they’ll wake, and very often my children or husband walk into the room, interrupting my prayer time.
Want to know my very first thought when they enter? My initial reaction? I could tell you I’m delighted to see them, but I’d be lying to you.
If I’m honest – and I’m not proud of this - I’m aggravated. In fact, I'm FILLED WITH FRUSTRATION. Even worse, it’s often directed AT the person who has done nothing other than wake up and walk into the room!
I’ll abruptly close my book, sometimes with a frustrated sigh, as I end my quiet time and greet whoever has entered. If the person talks to or requests something from me, I respond accordingly, but often with an edge in my voice so they’ll know I’m bothered by their interruption.
As I reflect on my behavior I am embarrassed at how quickly I transition from feelings of peace and serenity to flat out irritation over the simplest of things. And worse yet, it’s directed at those I love most.
Recently the above scenario began to play out again, but by the grace of God, I did something different …
Instead of snapping my journal closed to demonstrate my annoyance, I took a slow breath and brought my frustration TO the Lord, journaling ABOUT my irritation. And as I complained to the Lord that the presence of this family member had interrupted my plans for morning prayer, He gently pointed out these interruptions, although not part of MY plan, were actually part of HIS.
He wants my family to see me with my Bible open so they’ll view reading His Word as normal, and so one day He can speak to them through it, just as He has spoken to me.
He pointed out that what I viewed as an interruption was actually an opportunity for me to plant a seed that could one day inspire my own family to sit quietly with Him as well.
And He wants my family to see that my morning prayer time fills me with peace, not that it puts me in a bad mood.
And He didn’t stop there ...
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, He reminded me that He wants me to be grateful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and that this is different from being grateful for all circumstances.
The fact that my family has interrupted my prayer time by walking into the living room means He has blessed me with a family. A home. And with my faith. And for these things I am incredibly grateful.
As I reflect on the many ways He has blessed me, I experience this gratitude as a warm feeling, welling up from with, and I can easily express it to others. But sometimes, gratitude is not a feeling. Sometimes, it’s a choice:
It involves an intentional search for the good in whatever situation is before me, even when it first appears negative.
It involves a deliberate decision to be grateful, even when this opposes my initial reaction.
It involves prayerfully asking God to show me His presence, even in very difficult situations. And without a doubt, resolving to choose gratitude in all situations is something I can only accomplish with God’s help. Because, as I have embarrassingly shown you, on my own I am quick to complain when my plans fall through, have very little patience, and easily act in a most ungrateful and childish way!
I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with loving family, friends, and a delicious meal. I also know it’s possible this Holiday season will bring upsetting or frustrating moments:
Stuck in traffic or battling airport stress? What a blessing you have the ability to travel!
Unhappy as you spend time with family members who aren’t your favorite? What a blessing you aren’t alone on the holidays!
Irritated because you’re working during the holidays? What a blessing you are employed!
Grieving as you celebrate your first Thanksgiving without a loved one who has passed? I'm so sorry for your loss and pray God comforts you. But what a blessing your life was touched by that person, and that you have treasured memories of your time together.
Disappointed because COVID has put a damper on your traditional large family gathering? What a blessing that modern technology allows us to still connect when we can’t be together physically.
As we all walk through this Thanksgiving season, I pray the Holy Spirit graces us all with the ability to view each frustrating and upsetting moment through a lens of gratitude.
About the Author
While living out her vocations of marriage, motherhood, and health care provider, Jen is often found on the sidelines of a ball game, searching for shade while cheering on her sons. An early riser, she sits with Jesus while it’s still dark and blogs about their conversations at Early Morning Coffee With Jesus. Get to know her more on Instagram or Facebook @earlyamcoffeewithjesus.