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When I survey what I’m grateful for, I too often create a list of the “good” and “bad” things in my life, and think that gratitude means feeling grateful enough for the “good” that it outweighs the “bad.” Of course this view is too simplistic. In my experience I’m finding gratitude is a practice, a choice, a surrender…and it coexists with the good and bad.

While I am grateful for my life and health, I am still so sad, angry and confused by the toll this pandemic has taken on so much of our world. While I am grateful for perseverance, I am also angry at the many systemic injustices and inequalities our neighbors face daily. The gratitude I feel for seven years of marriage to my best friend coexists with a sadness about our inability to grow our family as we’d hoped. Gratitude for the ability and means to work and have a job coexists with the exhaustion that work entails lately.

And when I surrender to the idea that none of it is in my control, both the good and the bad, therein is the freedom to experience the fullness of gratitude. Many times, nothing we do deserves the many sadnesses, hard seasons or devastation. And conversely there is nothing we did to truly earn, deserve or entitle us to the good things. I can shed the weight of responsibility to eradicate the hard things, while simultaneously marveling in the sheer undeserved mercies in my life.

True gratitude is both a choice and an absolute miracle and I am sincerely grateful.