Gratefulness, gratitude, does not come easy to my heart. That’s what I realized last week. I always want more. Like the Israelites in the desert, the perennial whipping boy of faithlessness, I can always find something to complain about. Maybe I’m alone in this particular brokenness, but I find it extremely hard to hold on to a spirit of gratefulness. Many days I find it next to impossible to achieve anything more than sheer apathy. Given the current consumerist demands on and (more importantly) demands of my heart, I find it absolutely necessary to hold onto something else at least for a little longer. I received that gift of sorts a week ago now.

Gratefulness of a newly freed man

Last Tuesday, I drove home from work without an interlock on my car (forcing me to take a breathalyzer to start my car and intermittently keep it running), or the status of restricted on my driver’s license. Last Tuesday marked the end of an over sixteen month road that began with a DUI, and ended unceremoniously with my ordering a replacement license that at long last lacked the alphabet soup of court codes I had hanging above me. I am certainly a marked man, but I am free. Sixteen months after the arrest, I am free, marked but free.

Gratefulness for the minute

I’ve never been so grateful to have to drive up through the mess of the Beltway and I-270 as I was this past weekend on the way to visit my mom’s parents. Even when I first got my license, this drive made that joy seem…simply less. Driving an interstate to a place that wasn’t work or a court-ordered appointment, knowing family would be there to greet me on the other end of my journey, was thrilling. It was not a terribly smooth drive. There was enough traffic and I was cut off a few times, but those facts didn’t and still don’t matter. See, I was so enthralled with being able to visit my family on my own, without needing anyone’s help (a ride), that even driving some of the DC area’s most notorious roads was a time of basking in God’s grace. Don’t worry, I’ll go check myself into the mental institution in just a moment.

Now that Cyber Monday’s come and gone and the holiday shopping season is in full swing, I know that I have a very distinct choice to make that will either make or break the next three-plus weeks. My choice, our choice, is do we choose gratefulness? Do we choose to strive after being content in what we’ve been given, what’s being given to us daily, or do we sellout for the electronics, the clothes, the menial things that will all too soon rust, wear out, or break? Or do we choose to find joy in driving along the heavily trafficked freeways of life, smiling amidst the congestion, being cut off, and the route not being as clear and straight as we would have hoped it might be? Today, everyday, we can choose gratefulness or complaint. What’ll it be, friend?