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How a twist on service helped turn my grumpiness into gratitude


November 11, 2017

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As I write this column, I am sitting in a fluffy bed eating Godiva chocolate waiting for my rose-scented bath to be drawn. A little cup of herbal tea is sitting on my nightstand, along with a new book. A pair of soft pajamas is laid out on the bed with the words “Good Mood” printed across the front. My boys are all downstairs playing with my husband, who just finished making — and cleaning up — dinner.

Sound like a dream? It is. And it’s actually happening!

No, this is not a nightly occurrence at our house. I don’t even deserve it, to tell you the truth. The last few weeks have been very difficult for me (how many times have I written that?) and tonight was the result of me emotionally losing it on the phone with my husband.

“I just don’t feel like me,” I told him. Instead of bucking up and getting out and looking beyond myself, all I felt like doing was laying in bed. I was tired. So very, very tired of dealing with my boys whom I have felt constantly at battle with and have officially dubbed the Most Rowdy and Rambunctious, especially my youngest who has reached a new level of naughty.

Yesterday, he threw a toy phone at another little boy during our mommy workout class, resulting in a serious cut and bad bruise. Today he “attacked” (as quoted by one of the teachers at gymnastics) two other little kids in the foam pit trying to claim his dominance over the play area. How do you discipline a 2-year-old? Besides taking him out of the situation, putting him in time out, giving him a spanking, making him apologize or taking away privileges? So far none of those have worked.

After tearfully asking what else I can do and explaining how I just feel like I’m in a funk, my husband responded with, “The best way to get out of that funk is to do something for someone else. I always feel better when I serve someone.” I knew he was right. But the stubborn part of me thought, “For crying out loud, what does he think I do all day? My whole life is service with a capital ‘S’, and that goes for every other mother on the planet!”

I sort of said as much, and then he said, “Then let me serve you.”

Service and gratitude go hand in hand, I think. When we focus on being thankful for the blessings we have, it makes us want to turn around and bless the lives of others. That’s why my husband is always happy. He doesn’t need a shirt to tell him to cheer up, or chocolate, or a warm bath, or a night off from dishes and bedtime duty, although all those things are glorious and wonderful.

“No matter how loud it gets,” my husband joked before he shut the door, “you stay up here with the door locked. I’ll take care of everything."

He knows service is the way to truly be happy. It’s funny, as much as I appreciate being served — and I do — I actually really do feel just as good serving others. Even when those “others” are my not-so-grateful kids.

My November challenge to myself (and I would love to have you join me) is to not only recognize my blessings and voice that gratitude and thankfulness, but to try to follow the example of my husband and do something for someone else that makes them feel that way, too. I love this time of year when we look for the good in our lives and turn to God in gratitude.

Tonight, I’m grateful for my saint of a spouse as well as warm baths, good books and locked doors.

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