The Tension Between Gratitude and Desire

Lately I’ve been having a struggle that seems so stupid to me sometimes, but other times it is enough to paralyze me with anxiety. I have been struggling with being grateful for what I have when I want more. I think maybe I feel like it is inherently ungrateful to want things. The reason I feel silly about it sometimes is that some of the things I want are very normal things, but what paralyzed me is that so many people don’t have what I have; and I feel like I should just be grateful for having that.

I grew up with death as a very active piece of my consciousness. My heart would stop, and we didn’t know why; and then we knew it had to do with food but not exactly how so. Because of that I was always conscious and terrified of death. I was afraid I was going to die pretty much every second of every day. It was my reaction to anything that went wrong, and often still is. An event that actually could cause death, or a death of someone I know, can send me into a tailspin that I can’t seem to recover from for weeks, or longer.

Then, I lost Emma, and then more babies. Losing her wrecked me; like nothing I had ever experienced. My faith crumbled into anger, grief and loneliness. When I got pregnant again, I sobbed for days in terror of what I was sure was another oncoming miscarriage, and a worse one because I was further along.

When Willow survived, I was ecstatic with joy., I still feel it when I look at her, the certainty that I was going to lose her and the absolute glory of holding her.

Then there was Sage, who I feared for for different reasons. I feared her being early, more than I feared her death. This time; there was a part of me that believed she would live. Her childbirth was the successful home birth I wanted, but I feel a twinge if sadness when I think about it because it still wasn’t what I expected.

I struggle with that. I feel like I should be so grateful I had such a great childbirth, and I healed from what happened with Willow and Sage was so healthy. It feels blasphemous almost to grieve the parts I struggled with in the face of what could have been.

I think that’s why I hate the cliche mom phrases about children in Africa not having whatever you are upset about having, or the first world problem jokes, because I am all too aware of how lucky I am to be holding these precious people in my life. I have no right to complain or grieve anything else I may be upset about.

At the same time, I believe that God gives us our desires for a reason, and that He wants to fill them and give them abundance. It is a struggle for me to balance that belief with knowing just how much I’ve been given. I think sometimes I am not grateful enough; and other times I think that I am so grateful it hurts.

There are moments when I hold one of the babies and my entire body feels like it will explode in gratitude for them, other times they both pull on me at once and I want to scream, but I also shudder under powerful guilt for feeling that way.

Now, there are several things I am waiting on that I desire powerfully and all-consumingly, and I am so angry at myself for that sometimes because I feel like I should just be content, but at the same time I keep reminding myself my desires are normal and valid.

All I can do is pray that God sees my prayers of gratitude amidst my tears of desire.

Maybe today pray:

God I give you thanks for everything I have, hear me thanking you even when I cry out in the struggle.

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