Choosing Thankfulness

I know bitterness holds people back. It feels like being stuck. The “bitter old woman” is a bit of a cliché, but when I hear that phrase, I think of someone who is somehow cemented in the past, unforgiving, and resentful.

This has certainly been true of me at various points in my life. I’ve been bitter about events that have occurred and enraged at the failures of people in my life.

Sarah Clews BitternessThe Bible has a lot of say about bitterness, including Proverbs 14:10, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.

Last May I found my heart at a bit of an emotional precipice. While trying to turn left across a busy highway at a tricky spot, we were in a car accident. Although it was a serious accident (our car was totaled and airbags deployed), miraculously no one was seriously hurt including our three little girls who were in the car at the time. As I tried to sort through my feelings afterwards, I realized I had a choice. I could look at the accident two ways.

On one hand, I could think to myself, “Where was God on that day? Why didn’t he protect us from being in the accident?” On the other hand, I could think, “Wow, I’m so thankful God spared us from any serious injuries or death. He obviously prevented something worse from happening.” I could choose to become bitter that the accident had occurred at all, or I could choose to be thankful that God protected us from much worse.

bitterness Sarah ClewsAlthough it took months for me to feel comfortable in the car again and there are still things I’m working on, I did choose thankfulness. If I had chosen bitterness, it would have kept me fastened to that moment, unable to move forward because of my resentment. Because God led me to choose thankfulness, I was able to look forward with hope. God still has a purpose for my life. He chose to spare my family, and I believe He has a special plan for us.

Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

That place of being stuck, bitterness, is a place of unforgiveness, anger and hopelessness. Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” How much trouble has bitterness caused? God calls us to more—to forgiveness and hope. He calls us to press on  and seek the crown of life which He has promised.

sarah-c-squareSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.


Disciplined Contentment

Home ownership is  a dream of mine. For the last three years, after spending nine renting, I’m really looking forward to increased privacy, the ability to make changes and do maintenance without consulting a landlord, and better parking, just to name a few.

Sarah Clews Discipline (1)This desire has frequently led to me feeling discontent with my current living situation. However, I realized that if I don’t practice gratitude and contentment now, I won’t  be thankful or content when my dream is realized. I need to  it part of my routine. Choosing contentment must become a discipline.

I want to be like Paul and have Phillipians 4:11-13 pouring out of my life,“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Taking commitment seriously means  practicing stewardship. Instead of dwelling on bunching carpet, peeling paint, and disintegrating caulk, I’ve been routinely keeping these things in the best condition I can, and thanking God that our apartment is warm, and can be kept clean with a little routine elbow grease (and bleach!). When I feel frustrated that the yard maintenance guys blow bark dust into the window tracks and under the doors every Monday, I’ve been replacing my whining with cleaning the window tracks, and remembering to be grateful that I have windows.

I keep this quote from C.S. Lewis close at hand, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature.” How much I would rather be heavenly than hellish, but my decisions don’t always proclaim that.

So, I’m making a choice. A choice that my routine is going to include being grateful. I have to practice being filled with gratitude every day. On Sunday, the sermon (taught by Brian Condello) referenced the story of the healed lepers in Luke 17:11-19. They cry out to Jesus for mercy and healing, and He does just that. But only one returns to thank Him.

“One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Discipline Sarah ClewsBrian Condello concluded the sermon with, “Gratitude allows us to see what Jesus is preparing for us.”

I need a routine of giving thanks, of finding something to grateful for. It’s only when I’m coming from a place of gratitude, of knowing I’m abundantly loved and cared for by my Creator, that I have anything to share with others.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.