I woke up this morning grumpy. My back hurt, I didn’t want to go to work, and I could hear the rain pouring and the wind howling outside. Grumpy doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, does it? I’ve noticed the last couple of days that I’ve had to watch my attitude. Grumpy is coming easily. A little bit of grumpy is no big deal, but chronically grumpy sours into bitterness, and that’s not how I want to live out my life.

What can make it hard is that I have some legitimate complaints. I’ve been in pain, often a considerable amount of it, almost constantly for about three months. Pain, I’m finding, is a wearing and exhausting thing with which to live. Besides the fact that it hurts, it grinds on me. It makes me feel weaker. I’m always devoting a fair amount of energy to living with it. I also feel guilty about it. It’s been three months, and I’ve been cooperative with my plan of care. Shouldn’t I all better by now? What am I doing wrong? I’m not, by the way. Apparently, some of the damage done can take six months to heal, but knowing that doesn’t necessarily make me feel great when I’m feeling down about it. I still hurt. I still feel weak and guilty. I’m still angry over the unfairness. I’m still being disappointed in my desire to be better, and that makes it easy, easy to feel all grumpy, and then to be snarky and sour, and then… You see how this goes, right? Somehow, I need to allow myself room to be in pain and to have reason for complaint without allowing it to eat me alive.

This isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve had something hard and unfair. I learned some things from those prior experiences that I’m finding helpful now. One is that I do need to watch my attitude. When I was a kid, I didn’t know that. I didn’t watch it very well which meant that I had some difficult messes to clean up when I started dealing with the reality that I’d suffered childhood abuse. Another is that I need to leave myself room for the legitimate pain and emotional turmoil I’m experiencing. I can’t just tell myself to shutup and ride without doing more damage. Yet another is the realization that I can’t do this on my own. I need God’s help and provision and ear.

In the last couple of days, I’ve noticed that I’ve almost without conscious thought turned myself toward God. If I’m grumpy, I grouch at Him and complain about how unfair it is. If I hurt, I cry out and tell Him that I can’t do this. This morning, I noticed another old lesson popped up. I was lying in bed, grouchy about being awake, and instead of staying there, I started thanking God for stuff. The truth is that I have not only reasons for complaint, but I also have reasons for gratitude. Work may be getting on my nerves sometimes, but I do have a job, one with decent pay and benefits and an employer that I usually appreciate and think appreciates me. My back might hurt, but most everything else is working great, and my back is better. I have a great mom. I like my siblings most of the time. I have some really good, sweet friends. Some time in the near future, there will be silly lambs bouncing all over the place and making me laugh with their antics. I live in an abundantly beautiful place. There are lots of good things in my life for which I am genuinely grateful.

One thing I would like to point out my attitude of gratitude is not a case of, “Cheer up! It could always be worse.” I’m not happy about having a job because I could be one of the poor folk who hasn’t been able to find one, or because I’m not stuck doing something I truly hate. I’m not happy about my back pain because at least that’s the only body part currently misbehaving. I think cheering up because it could be worse is the same thing as telling myself to shutup and ride. It’s not gratitude. It’s another method to deny the legitimacy of my very real pain and genuine struggle. It takes what I feel and tells me that I shouldn’t be feeling it. I’ve done that to myself before, and I found that while denying what I feel can be good in the short term, making it a long term habit means I have a lot of unresolved issues that eventually refuse to be hidden or denied.

Tell you one more thing for which I’m grateful. It would be roots. It would be the experience I’ve already acquired and the habits I’ve already learned that make turning toward God something that I don’t always have to struggle to remember. I’ve got that established, rooted into my life. That doesn’t mean I always remember right away to turn to God to pray and wait and rest and praise and all that, but it’s certainly quicker and easier and more likely to happen in a timely manner. For that, I’m grateful.