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Grateful in This Moment

In 2018, Hurricane Michael left our house unlivable and our community devastated. Power, water, internet and even some cellular service took months to be restored, while some stores and gathering spots are still being rebuilt. In the midst of cleaning up debris with no running water or air conditioning, I remembered promising myself that I would never ever take the simple pleasures in life — like being able to get water from a faucet or a gallon of milk from an open store — for granted again.

Not long after that, I threw a small tantrum when Walmart substituted yellow onions for red in my curbside pickup. Our air conditioner failed, the house got to 80 degrees for a few hours, and I contemplated booking a hotel. How quickly I forgot my promise to always be grateful!

In early 2020, I remembered thinking how chaotic life was, and that those who worked from home or who were stay-at-home parents must find life so peaceful. Their laundry was probably always done, their bathrooms always clean and they probably had tons of time to pray and read spiritual books peacefully while their children napped.

Then I had the chance to work from home and realized caring for tiny humans and keeping up with the housework they generated 24/7 were time-consuming tasks — even while attempting to teach them important life skills like turning on the robot vacuum and making their own Pop-Tarts.

This past summer, as we returned to the world of working from offices and utilizing child care and packing lunches and wearing real pants, I reflected that I had a new appreciation for the work that went into running a household while being home full-time and what it took to balance work outside the home with family life.

Whether it’s the conveniences of utilities and grocery pickup or the routine of balancing work and parenting, I can be so quick to forget gratitude — focusing on how life could be easier if things changed. I forget to be mindful of the many ways God constantly provides. I can get caught up thinking what would be better if it was different and completely miss the gift of the present.

In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul exhorts us to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (4:4), explaining that he learned, in whatever situation he was in, to be content (4:11) and to rely on the Lord for his strength.

Practicing gratitude in the midst of all circumstances, especially the challenging times, doesn’t come naturally to me. My resolutions not to take anything for granted are short-lived, and I’m still quick to believe that somehow others have it easier than I do. 

Yet this advice of St. Paul — always rejoice — is a discipline I keep attempting as I pray, journal and reflect. What can I be grateful for in this present moment? Reflecting on the question brings an increase in peace and contentment and awareness of how God continues to provide.

Alison Blanchet lives in Panama City with her husband and children. Email her at