Last night was one of my most difficult nights of sleep experienced since the very first days of newborn-hood with Jules, over 6.5 months ago. She is teething right now (got 4 teeth in all at once, without a break in between any of them) and caught the cough/congestion sickness that her siblings have all had a touch of lately. I also think she’s in a growth spurt at the moment too.
Needless to say, she was not a happy camper last night and struggled to get much sleep. For the whole night, I think the longest she was able to sleep was an hour straight. It was the kind of night where every time I went back to lay down to go to sleep after helping her, she’d wake me up just as sleep was coming on.
At one point of exhaustion I was asking God, “why?” and praying my heart out, begging the Lord to please give me a miracle tonight and let her stay asleep for a few hours just so I could get enough rest to do all there is to do today. Finally she did.
However, I went to sleep and experienced a horrific dream where I was far from home in a land I was unfamiliar with. It was all so vivid, that it felt completely real. After tasting of some sweet success at a fancy night of recognition, I went into a public space and was gunned down by machine guns in the middle of a war that wasn’t mine. I felt of the exquisite pain, thinking it would be impossible to live after being ripped to shreds… wondering why I could still feel my heart beating. I lay there for a long time, focusing on my breath, struggling to replace fear and pain with faith. Then, the dream changed and I found myself being released from a hospital where some poor doctor had done his best to stitch me up and put me back together again. I felt of the pain of the freshly stitched wounds, but most of all felt of the gratitude of being able to live and walk again, not letting the destruction of someone else’s battle ruin the opportunities and potential of being able to continue living a full, beautiful life.
Then, I woke up to Jules crying again. As I comforted her, I was still chilled by the dream. Again, I asked God “why?” because I was frustrated at finally having the chance to sleep and then having it ruined by such a violent, painful dream.
The answer came: the gifts of gratitude, perspective and compassion were the reasons for the dream.
As I sat with those answers, I was able to recognize what the dream had changed for me. Rather than having a day tainted by “wo is me… I got no sleep because my baby kept me awake most of the night,” I was able to find GRATITUDE. The dream had reminded me of just how very blessed I am to be the mother of 5 incredible children. It reminded me how blessed we are to live in a country that is not war-torn. It reminded me how grateful I am for a body that can walk, run, laugh and play (even if it’s pounds heavier than I would like it to be). I could see how innumerable all the blessings in my life truly are.
Finding gratitude gave me the strength to choose to make today beautiful and joyful for myself and our entire household, regardless of my energy level.
It is my conviction that gratitude is the key that unlocks the door to the secret garden of everything we desire in life, including being able to experience the immense joy, peace and faith.
I have experienced this time and again. Gratitude makes all the difference. Even in the dream, I was shown how amidst so much pain and fear, there was ample opportunity to experience the joy and solace of gratitude for the blessings I was enjoying.
It really is like the song says,
“When upon life’s billows you are temptest tossed, do not be discouraged thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
Today there is great reason for gratitude. What a blessing it is to be an American and live in a nation that strives for freedom of all it’s people. Truly, I am deeply grateful to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his courage to stand for what he knew was right, regardless of the cost and the opposition. I know we all pray to be as courageous and full of faith as he was.
When we see our lives and our situations through the lens of gratitude, it’s as if we are putting on rose colored glasses. Everything looks and feels more lovely. What a blessing it is to have something so simple to assist us in accessing more of God’s love and compassion so easily.