Our topic this month is Gratitude. There is nothing on this earth that I am more grateful for than my family, so I will start with a brief introduction. We are the Johansen family, who moved here from Wyoming. Ben worked in the oil and gas industry for a long time so we have moved around quite a bit, from Rock Springs, Vernal, Arkansas, and Pinedale. Parkinson’s has changed our plans and brought us home to be near family. We both grew up (at least that’s what they say you do in High School) in Sanpete County. So, a Hawk and a Templar can get along! Bringing children into our family was a bit of a struggle but we were blessed with 3 boys and finally a daughter. Along the way Heavenly Father called one home and another one will forever be a child even as his body matures. It’s amazing how many wonderful things he teaches me. Our oldest son is serving his mission in Bogota, Colombia and loving it right now. Although, he says everyone feeds him rice and fried bananas. Our youngest is a teenage girl, so, you can guess how that’s going…but we love her dearly.
Gratitude can be a tricky thing. When things are going great it’s easy to be thankful. Blessings seem easy to identify when our situation is full of positivity, until we get so used to things being good that we start to forget who is blessing us. When times are tough, it’s sometimes a struggle to find the good things to be grateful for. It is so much easier to say why me, instead of thank you, Lord, for the refining process. Albeit, I have found when I feel things are at their lowest, it’s pretty easy to find joy when unexpected good things happen. So how do we find the right balance? How do we know we are thankful enough, in the high points of life when everything is going our way or at the bottom when we feel we are losing the fight with a trial? Can we find gratitude in every situation, even the toughest trials? I say yes we can. In certain situations, my yes might come eventually, but it does come. I don’t think our Heavenly Father expects any one of us to always have a heart full of gratitude, without an occasional complaint. He knows that we will have times when things are just plain hard, times when we feel broken or lost. There are going to be times when we do question, why me or can you just pass this one on to someone else? Even Christ in the garden asked, is there not another way? He understands what it’s like for things to be tough. Christ completely understands how it feels. Tears and trials, were part of the plan, because they teach us to appreciate and long for smiles and laughter. They make us hope for happiness and gratitude.
I have had times in my life when I was not especially grateful for things that were going on around me. When it was hard to find something to say thank you for, but later I realized I wasn’t looking hard enough. I couldn’t see beyond the trial right in front of me. On the other side of the trial I see the blessings that my tears were hiding. Looking back always helps me catch things to be grateful for that I missed at the time. I see how prayers were answered for my benefit, even when they weren’t what I thought I wanted. I find that when I try to find something to be grateful for, even if it’s something minuscule it makes my day better. After all, we each have a Heavenly Father who loves us individually, and a brother who made all things possible for us. None of us are perfect but we can one day be, because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and that is enough to be grateful for every day.