I find it annoying that when I can least write, I am most full of topics to write about. Then when I finally have a good block of time to write, my mind refuses to engage. Pffft.
Some years ago I listened to a cancer survivor talk about unconditional gratitude. I forget the details but the essence of his message was that though it’s good to be grateful for all you have, the true test of character comes when you hit rock bottom in life and you’re left with nothing, materially and physically, to be grateful for.
We tend to be really good at conditional gratitude – “I’m broke but at least I have a job”, “My car is bust but at least I own one”, “My life isn’t going the way I thought it would but it’s definitely better than that person’s over there”. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this kind of gratitude. But sometimes we find ourselves with nothing to our name besides the shirt on our backs, and sometimes literally struggling to keep alive. We’re the least of the least in those moments, and there’s no one to compare ourselves to. So how do we remain grateful then?
The cancer survivor’s solution was unconditional gratitude. During his battle with cancer, his health was obviously a tottering fence, he had no job title to be proud of, he couldn’t work, and had to depend on others for base, routine functions. He had next to nothing to be grateful for. That’s when it occurred to him – that in difficult seasons we need more than just gratitude, we need to be unconditionally grateful. What does that look like? It’s being grateful for life just as it is – not in comparison to another person or situation. It’s saying “I’m homeless and I’m grateful for good health”, “I’m jobless and I’m grateful for a full belly”, but even more than that – “I’m on my deathbed and thank God I know who holds the next stage of my life”.
Unconditional gratitude, at its core, is less about being grateful for what is here now but could be gone tomorrow, and more about being thankful for what can be called ‘the incorruptible’. Being thankful for a state in this life and the one to come that is guaranteed by the Creator and cannot be changed by any man or course of nature.
Remaining in the zone
I’m sort of in a place where, though life isn’t what I hoped it would be at this stage, I have much to be conditionally grateful for. In recent times, I’ve been thinking more about unconditional gratitude and that when times are rough, as they have been lately, there is a state I can tap into – a state that has no comparison, a state that cannot be taken away from me, a state that I can be eternally thankful for. I’m trying more and more to dwell in this state, wish me the best.