Two words that can get you out of that funk
This may come as a surprise, but having a good attitude does not always come naturally to me. It's true! In fact, there are days when—if I got there—it probably took a bit of work.
Sure, the Sun is always shining! I know that! But when I look around and see a world full of injustice, corruption, confusion, melting ice caps, and dying coral reefs, I tend feel the weight of these things a little more than any excitement over the Sun (which, they say, may actually burn us all up in a few years or so, according to the internet).
Such was my status the other day when it came time for me to clean my bathroom. Again. I do a lot of cleaning these days, you know! I used to have this real job where I could afford to pay someone else to clean my bathroom for me, but now that I am a stay-at-home mom, that ring in the toilet is pretty much only going to get worse unless I do something about it. So annoying.
So there I was, toilet brush in hand, sulky pout on face, feeling like such a loser because other people were out in society doing important things while I was at home sprucing up the john as my big accomplishment for the day, when I remembered a little habit I’ve recently picked up in order to keep my perspective from spiraling into the depths of despair:
As I started cleaning, I simply whispered, “Thank you, God, for this toilet.”
That's it! All of a sudden, cleaning that thing went from being an act of resentment to an act of complete gratitude and joy. I thought of some really crappy toilets I’ve lived with in the past (see what I did there?). This toilet is pretty nice!
I thought of how many displaced people there are in the world who would give anything just to have their own bathroom to clean, and I prayed for them.
I remembered a few months ago, when we were shopping for our new home, I prayed for a house with two toilets (because of those awkward times when we’re out-and-about for a while, and everyone has to pee when we get home, and there’s an argument about who gets to pee first). So when we came to see this house, we found one full bathroom, and then also this unexpected, tiny room off the kitchen with literally just a toilet in it. That’s all. I laughed so hard when I saw it, and knew this must be our house! It has two toilets! And also a sense of humor. That felt personal to me. I felt known by the God of the Universe.
All of a sudden, cleaning went from being an act of resentment to an act of complete gratitude and joy.
You see, when we start to say, “Thank you,” we start to remember and recognize all that God has done, and is doing. We start to see so much evidence of His unending love and faithfulness. If we keep going, we can’t help but notice that it’s personal. And when we become aware of God's personal love for us, that changes the way we feel about everything.
Our little family has been in major transition for the past year or so from Army to civilian life, and I admit, I don’t always handle transition super well. Even good transition! There have been moments I’ve been struggling so hard with my perspective that all I could do to salvage it was look around and thank God for whatever random things I could find. Dish soap. The spices in our kitchen. The hot water heater. Two working vehicles. The trees in our yard. Anything! Everything! There really is so much!
And just that simple act of noticing even the littlest things and saying, “Thank You!” for them never fails to change my entire perspective, because as it turns out, it is impossible to have a grateful heart AND a pity party at the same time. Honest gratitude is the death of self-pity.
Honest gratitude is the death of self-pity.
The more I said "Thank you," and thought about it, the more I realized that I clean my own toilets now (both of them) because I chose this scenario. I made the decision to leave the professional world for a season, and be the one at home with our son instead of staying at work while someone else takes care of him. No one forced me to be here; I wanted this. And as challenging as it is on a regular basis, being his primary influence, shaping the beginning of his entire human experience, is one of the greatest blessings and responsibilities of my own existence. I am so grateful for this!
And even in the toughest situations in my life that I haven't chosen, and would never chose, I can still always look around and find something to say thank you for. Acknowledging these graces will always remind me that hope is never lost, and love is still winning.
So when I thanked God for the toilet the other day, nothing actually changed in that moment. And at the same time, everything did! I went from being a loser stuck at home, unable to pay someone else to clean the toilets, to a free woman whose choices had the power to turn even cleaning toilets into a profoundly spiritual, deeply meaningful occasion.
“Thank You.” That's it. Some powerful words, if you ask me.