Gratitude. Worry. Fear. How do these emotions interact? Through experience, I have found that if I can be grateful, I can be less worried and fearful, and have more joy. One way to do this is to focus on the present moment, which is where God resides, instead of revisiting past regrets or projecting into the future and worrying about what hasn’t even happened yet.
I came across an exercise that can help me shift from worry and fear to being more aware of God’s love and all the bounty that is already present in my life. Try this: take five minutes and be fully focused on what you see around you – indoors or outside. Look at one item that you see, for example a lamp in a room where you live. Say thank you to that lamp, for helping you see better. Think about how the lamp works – what about the technology and power plant that bring the electricity to you, and thank the people who made that possible. Think about all the components of that lamp – the metal it is made of – where did that come from? Say thank you to the metal. What about the people who made the metal? Say thank you to them. What about the ground the metal came from – where might that have been? And who brought the lamp to you? Say thank you to the people who drove the trucks, who put it in the box, who stocked the shelves, who built the store, and so on. And we need to think about the natural world: the air we breathe, the sun that warms us and makes life itself possible, the plants and animals and insects that we rely on for our existence, and how much we owe them, and say thank you.
We are part of an interconnected web of relationships that we usually take for granted. When I take the time to really look at what is around me, and acknowledge the efforts of everyone and everything that is involved in providing our food, clean water to drink, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, and everything else that makes daily life possible, I am grounded in the present and somehow I am able to relax a bit and trust more in God. And then, with a lighter heart, I can say thank you to God.
Life is complicated. Things go wrong, or tragedy strikes. I lived through the loss of a beloved person in my life who struggled with addiction for decades, attempted to recover, but after relapsing several times, died from this disease. My faith assures me that this person is now with God and one day, we will be reunited. I choose to believe that in spite of things that take place that we will never understand, God’s mercy and love continues, and I say thank you.