The Paradox of Being Grateful When Things are Hard

I find myself oscillating between two extremes fairly often. One is that I am struggling and I am frustrated that things aren’t getting better. The second is that I feel like maybe my struggle is not actually that bad, so I’m actually just a horribly ungrateful person who doesn’t deserve to live. Okay, that’s extreme, but there are some days it feels pretty intense. I think sometimes it’s easier for me to feel like I am a horrible person who deserves to suffer, than to acknowledge that sometimes bad things happen to good people and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes God helps you, sometimes we are responsible for believing He is there in the storm. I’ve tried my whole life to be someone so perfect that God wouldn’t “punish” me, but that’s not how He works, and it’s really just hurts me more than just living would anyway.
The thing I’m struggling the most with is waiting in hope. I am not a patient person even when I know something is coming, but when there is a question about it, my entire emotional system goes into revolt and I turn into a 2 year old who hasn’t eaten in 2 hours. Right now, there are several things that I am waiting for, and they are not coming quickly, they are coming slowly, and they are things that I have been told are impossible over and over and over again, and they are things intrinsically connected to every trauma I have experienced. That being said, I am wanting them, and I am waiting for them, and I am working towards them. That is a miracle in and of itself because I had taught myself not to care anymore, and I had given up. I had convinced myself that those things didn’t matter to me and I would figure out life without them. But I asked God to bring me back to myself, and He did that, with a fire that burns a little out of control sometimes.
I desire with everything in me to serve God with my art, and my desire is not just for teaching, or volunteering, or whatever else though those are positive endeavors too and I don’t mind doing them also, but my desire is to MAKE GREAT ART. I want more than anything in me to spend my days creating films that reach deep into the depths of your soul and rip you apart in sadness or joy or horror or whatever it is your soul needs. I want to create films that wake people up to the other people who are struggling in the world. I want to create films that let the lonely know they are not alone. I want to make movies that sell like crazy not because I want to be famous but because I want to touch people and I want to spend every waking minute in the freedom that comes from being successful at what I love.
Is this a big ask? Yes.
Am I asking this in a world where most people do not get their big asks? Yes.
Does that make me terrified beyond the ability to breathe sometimes that I am asking? Yes.
Can I stop? Not if I want to be the person I was created to be.
God has asked us over and over to ask big things of Him, so no matter how stupid I feel or how hopeless this whole adventure seems to be or how much I want to give up, I am going to keep asking over and over and over again and throwing my pen at his feet and begging that He use it and give it a place to be heard.

A problem, though, with having such big asks, is that sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t ask for such big things. Who am I to ask to make art for my career when so many people would kill for one minute to work on theirs? Who am I to long for the money to have a nice house and maybe even a housekeeper because my artist family hates and sucks at cleaning? Who am I to long for more happiness in this life when I am not a Holocaust victim, I am not dying of cancer, I am not alone in life. I have so many amazing amazing blessings. My double rainbow babies are the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have the husband I do. My parents have gone above and beyond to make sure I get to be with my babies. My in laws saved us over and over again from trials.

The point is, I know I have so much to be grateful for, and sometimes it makes it hard to ask for the big things, like I’m a spoiled child for wanting more. I’m not sure how to handle that. Maybe this is just a side effect of the constant meditations on gratefulness that I am always surrounded by, or the knowledge that sometimes I am not as grateful as I could be( although I’ve recently noticed that I do not handle gratitude very gracefully, so this may just be an attempt to escape the total panic that comes over me when I am deeply grateful for something. ) Or maybe it’s another lesson in balance. I do tend to run across paradoxes frequently and usually the answer is a little bit one and a little bit the other. So maybe the answer is to work on gratitude a little more, but to remember it’s ok to want things. I don’t know. My gift isn’t answers. My gift is really freaking big questions.

A Night’s Crux


I came to you one night and could not breathe.
I tried to rise from darkness all around,
But in each step I felt a leaden scythe
Baring my heart down into the ground.

I begged you for your saving life to give
But heard no answer to what I had forced
And I knew with each breath I would not live
Until your river brought me to life’s course.

So I laid my heart down at your scarred feet
Left my wound open and to day faded
When I heard the ocean in a new seat,
The tide come in, here is God awaited.

I came to your altar and prayed for you
Begged you for mercy, your merciful love.
Their touch took up my hand and I breathed soon
“My life to their hands, our hope is in you.”

You left us your Church, each being in touch now
I breathe my cross to them, to your people.
For you give us each to each other, I know
We’re with each other-help we find in this veil.

I gave my life wounds to their prayers then
And when it was time we all looked around
You came to me in an embrace from him
And then gave me that peace that surrounds.

In that very moment I descended
From a web of spiritual deceit
To the deep net of holy comradeship
Formed by the kiss of time ending’s peace.

As I lay barely breathing in your Church
He came to me with your own arms.
He did not state to me my own self-worth
But he brought me first aid, to know your charms.

In you I recognized his loving face
For all the virtue love came possessed
And the inspiration he heard in your place
He came to obey and not wait to rest.

Peace he conveyed in tear opening gate
And peace came true in the blood running sea
When I came to the Lord now before, wait,
I came to him wounded, healing to plea.

He cotarized wounds to burning sensed
And singed til the edges were crisp and dry
But before night solemnity ended
Each had given renewed will to try.

I thank you, my Lord, for their in-You-peace
That bathed me in the gold eternal crown
I rest in that hint of th’eternal feast
And tread anew on this hard and cold ground.

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