Gratitude: Living in the Tender Space

September 9, 2021

There are days that feel hard. Not necessarily because stuff is out of whack or not working out. Everything is as it should be, but still, it feels hard.

It feels as if pieces are missing or just aren’t fitting. It feels as if there isn’t enough and never will be enough. Yesterday was one of those days for me. Yesterday was a day of a lot of feelings. Mostly familiar. Tears burned at the corner of my eyes as I kept thinking about how things were and how I wished they could be and all the ways they weren’t what I felt they should be. Discontentment and discouragement stood ready to receive me. It was easy to follow them. To get comfortable and run the gamut of woulda-shoulda-coulda. To be honest, I kind of went there a little bit. It’s easy to do. It’s easy to make myself at home in a space full of questioning, doubting, and worrying even though it’s not where I want to be.

When I got home from work, I made myself a cup of hot cocoa, grabbed my journal, and gave myself room. Room to process and write it out. Room to feel and acknowledge what was happening. I think sometimes we can get overwhelmed with life and forget to give ourselves room to feel and acknowledge it. We don’t give ourselves permission to feel the disappointment, the frustration, or the fear.

We are often in this tender space of living what is in front of us yet anticipating what’s to come. In that tender space, we will feel the full weight of our emotions. I think that’s what makes it tender. It’s a space we are meant to feel and leave. I realize this space can either make you or break you. It can either heal you or destroy you. I say this because how we manage ourselves in this space determines so much. It shapes you, molds you, and chisels you. What you become is entirely up to you. We are meant to feel and learn to manage ourselves in this space. I think it’s tender because it is an invitation to live well.

I realize more and more that we live in a fast-paced world. Things are happening quickly. Technology is advancing rapidly. We have everything—literally—at our fingertips. We grow impatient with long lines and slow internet. We fast forward through commercials and drive in express lanes.

There’s nothing wrong with that to some extent. I realize our impatience with simple things like traffic or long lines trickles down to impatience with ourselves and our process. It shows me how quickly we need things to be done. It’s impossible to not grow impatient with one’s journey or process because we live in a time when everything happens fast. It’s frustrating to have a dream swelling within you and feeling it will never happen. It’s hard to still hope and build the dream when the hype has died down and it feels “mundane” and insignificant. It’s hard because we live in a time when overnight success is expected. I get it. I’m there with you.

But, amid all that, I’m learning that living well isn’t something that can be rushed. Resting in the tender space between life lived and dreams fulfilled can’t be fast-forwarded. When I look at my life journey—at my dreams that seem so far away and so impossible—I realize it was never meant to be rushed. It was never meant to happen overnight or in a blink of an eye. I was meant to live in this constant tension because it’s an invitation for me to find the dream in front of me. It’s an invitation to grow and discover.

How my heart is positioned and where my mind is focused shapes so much of how I show up in this space. I believe the fuel to manage one’s self well is gratitude.

Gratitude is powerful. It’s so simple yet carries weight.

Gratitude can shift your heart. It can turn your gaze to what matters. It can completely rearrange your perspective.

We cannot live well without gratitude. We cannot sustain our dreams without gratitude.

It isn’t always easy to choose gratitude.

It’s easier to compare, even though it hurts. It’s easier to complain, even though it changes nothing. It’s easier to criticize others, even though it won’t make us any better. It’s easier to do all those things because it doesn’t require much from us.

But gratitude calls us higher. It pushes us to see the beauty in what we have right now. It celebrates the little things. It finds peace in the now. It doesn’t forsake dreams or shame us for hoping for more. No, gratitude increases our capacity to receive and manage our dreams and hopes. It positions our hearts to be humble, patient, hopeful, and persistent.

So, today is a new day. The sky is gray and I can feel the chill in my bones. Even so, I will choose gratitude today. I will choose to be thankful for what I have now and find joy in it. I won’t bemoan where I am. I won’t compare my journey as I build this wondrous life and as I live my life. I won’t criticize the success of others or judge their journey. No. I will choose gratitude, giving it permission to shift my heart, turn my gaze, and clarify my perspective.

What will you do?

This article was originally published on This Wondrous Life, you can read it here.

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