Why gratitude is so important

Why gratitude is so important

God-Related attitude
I attended a women’s retreat where the guest speaker asked us to think of the worst case scenario for our lives then find five things to be grateful about within that context. As you can imagine most of us looked at each other like she was nuts. She really expected us to find something to be thankful for if, e.g., we lose everything in a house fire, tornado, hurricane, spouse death, etc.? Yeah, right … but we did … somehow.

It had to be one of the most difficult gratitude lists I’ve ever drafted up to that point in my life but it changed my attitude profoundly.

Silly me asked God for strength during that retreat. A few years later, I asked God for a victorious Christian life. I’d heard the axiom, “Be careful what you pray for. You just might get it.” I got it alright. Ouch, Hallelujah!

I paid a hefty price for the strength and victories I enjoy today. Clearly I was clueless about what I was really asking for. I tempted fate. My inner dialogue to satan went something like this:

Me: “Screw you, bud. I’m with God. I read the end of the book. I’m victorious. Bring it.”

satan: “Oh yeah. By the time I’m through with you, you’ll want your old life back.”

I had no idea that I had an enormous lot to be grateful for. Before doing battle with the enemy of my soul Jesus already had poured gratitude aplenty over my short tenure on earth so I would have at least one powerful weapon that satan couldn’t thwart or change.

It feels like I’m living in hell but the good news is I have air conditioning. Satan thought he was fanning the flames of my destruction but in actuality he was fanning the flames of my purification. What satan meant for harm, God meant for good. Neener, neener, neener, satan. (NOTE: I refuse to give capitalize satan’s name because he is not on the same level as God.)

So let’s take a stroll through some of my most recent hellish circumstances and find the gold nuggets planted by my very extravagant King Jesus.

Edd’s disability
I was laid off about one week before our most excellent Christmas vacation to New York, NY, and Washington, DC, in 2000. When Edd returned to work January 2001, he found out he was laid off. He applied for and got permanent disability status shortly afterward because the chemotherapies were too much for him to handle while working. The monthly pay cut crippled us for the short-term but we were able to make it work regardless.

What I’m grateful for
For whatever reason determined by Social Security Administration not only did he get paid a hefty sum but he also received a stipend for his children. Consequently, upon his death, the full benefit was split between the kids and the income was to be continued until they graduated from high school. Excellent.

What’s more is that my daughter was able to maintain this benefit level for life because she was disabled before she graduated from high school. Now she is sitting pretty in the best of all circumstances with a few extra spending dollars thanks to God who made the best out of an difficult situation.

Incest and ritual abuse
Now I know what you’re thinking: Who could possibly be grateful for abuse of any kind? That would be me. Yep. Me. Why? It was a family wakeup call and I got to sound the alarm. I was the very first grandchild so I was a born trailblazer. However, God wanted to use me to end a cycle of abuse that I could easily trace back to my great grandparents. It was time and I was about to be an instrument of His peace.

I suffered greatly. Don’t get me wrong. The effects are still reverberating inside and outside of me.

What I have to be grateful about in this
Truth is I’m alive. I have a purpose. Through the “uncover and discover” phase of therapy, I have learned that the people closest to me have an ugly side. I’ve also learned that anyone not grounded in the love and care of Jesus is prone to satanic influence. I intimately understand why bad things happen to good, innocent people.

God made sure I didn’t remember a lick of abuse until I was ready to face my demons, which turned out to be when I was age 39. By this time my communication skills were being honed and confidence levels growing rapidly. There was no turning back. His purpose was to break the cycle, the family’s generational curse of pedophilia and ritual abuse. My reputation within the family has always been that I have a big mouth and wear my heart on my sleeve. Well, guess what? That’s how God wired me. I’m kinda likin’ it.

I stood up to the family demons and said it out loud. I exposed darkness to the Glorious Light and guess what? The truth came out and the healing has begun for me and my kids. The cycle of abuse has ended, at least, in my family. Now that my siblings are aware–and I’m certain their memory recall is just around the corner–it’s only a matter of time before the whole truth and nothing but the truth will keep my nephews safe from hurt, harm and danger.

The other thing to be grateful for is that I can tell my story to a wider audience. I’m ready. We are only as sick as our secrets. I aim to expose ’em all.

Guardianship/Conservatorship court battles
All my life, it seemed, my mother was chief among my detractors. For as long as I can remember, she has thrown me to the wolves while defending and protecting my siblings. Jesus decided that I had to raise my children with my eyes wide open and he revealed clearly my mother’s heart for me. It was incredibly painful but it was important to see her for who she really was. God also wanted me to see her the way He sees her. She is her daughter. She is in 100+ forms of pain. Hurting people like her hurt people. It’s all she knows to do. It is true that we hurt the ones we love, the ones closest to us. I have and so has she.

Then He allowed me to see the aftermath of her dysfunctional mind, mood and attitudes. He helped me to see how important it was for me to make the break from family. She has my brother and sister wrapped tightly around her finger. Her brand of witchcraft has destroyed our family. Years ago my siblings confirmed that she was pitting me against them and even they didn’t like it.

Gratitude? Really?
Yeppers! I’m grateful God removed my rose-colored glasses and allowed me to see my mother for exactly who she is: a wounded bird. She has so many wonderful qualities but they have been overshadowed by the evil that resides in all of man’s hearts before they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

I can see clearly what happens when one is deceived by the accuser of the brethren. I love my mom. She turns 70 this month. I’ve actually toyed with the idea of sending her a birthday card. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’ve forgiven her but I won’t be stupid enough to forget. God hasn’t filled me with the Spirit of stupid. If she wants my trust ever again, she has to earn it.

Because of everything she has done to me I can help others. My prayer for her is that she be saved radically so I can spend her last days with her in peace and within the light of Jesus Christ. After all He loves her more than I.

Finally, because of her lies and attempts at deceit in court I have been exonerated fully and now enjoy a favorable court reputation. How ya’ like me now?

This ol’ house
I had a choice: leverage my good credit rating and ensure my daughter got the help she desperately needed or look the other way and hope for the best. I didn’t even think twice. I leveraged my credit, took out loans, exhausted my husband’s retirement account to get to the bottom of what ailed her. I needed truth and I paid dearly.

As I stare down my second round of bankruptcy filing and selling my home against my wishes I can easily say I have no regrets. It was the right series of decisions at the right time for the right reasons. I knew there was a chance I could lose the house but my daughter was worth it. I’d do it all again.

Gratitude list

  1. Of course there is gratitude to be had. I’m grateful for:
    Having enough equity to live in my home without making a mortgage payment for three years. The timing of the mortgage crisis was providential.
  2. My husband who was wise enough to put away the maximum allowed into his retirement account for such a time as this.
  3. A therapist who knew when he diagnosed me that the road ahead would be rough and he would walk alongside me every step of the way.
  4. My children are safe, sound, whole and well.
  5. Jesus is still seated on the throne, loves me unconditionally and is with me through the valley of the shadow of death. His tender mercies are unmistakable.

I could go on and on because no matter how bad it is, God is still good.

“Thy rod and thy staff do comfort me”
During our Encounter God Service last Friday, Pastor Steve Jow made it pretty darned plain why pruning is really for our benefit. I love gardening and the fact that so many parables are about gardening.

So Pastor Steve whips out this Chinese maple tree in front of all of us and starts pruning away. I sat and continued knitting my girlfriend’s baby blanket and listened intently. God obviously was pruning me and I was not liking it one little bit. Probably a good idea to listen up.

As he talked about the pruning moments in his life he also discussed the blessings as the direct result. The tree represented him. After a while, there were no branches left, no leaves, just a trunk. When he whipped out the heavy duty pruning shears I almost fell out. He cut the trunk and left only a stump. He had my attention and I actually stopped knitting. Miraculous for me.

However, what he said next made perfect sense. He took what was now a hiking stick, turned it upside down and reminded us of Psalm 23:4d: Your rod and your staff do comfort me. What do we have to fear? By the way, aren’t we being made into the image and likeness of Jesus? If that’s true, then He is making us into His rod, a staff to comfort those around us.

My jaw dropped. That made too much sense. Paul beckons us in Romans 12:2:

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed …”

Jesus is changing me from the inside out. All of this testing and pruning is preparing me for a greater purpose. It’s just like the Olympics. They train all of their lives for that moment of glory. Pruning, testing, making mistakes, more testing and character building, making sure our roots go down deep so that when poop hits the fan we will not be moved. We persevere, overcome, stand.

Would you ever step onto an elevator that had never been tested before going into operation? The answer is no. Testing is good. It doesn’t last forever if you learn from mistakes and apply lessons learned. I’m so grateful he tests me.

Remember when we were in school and our teacher was quiet as we took our exams? If you don’t hear Him, you’re taking a test. You’re about to be promoted for His purpose and Glory. Will you pass?

I read the end of the book. We win. The only thing He asks me to do now is stand.

To my relatives
I love you all. Forgiveness awaits. You only need to accept it. You know how to reach me. If not, ask Mom.


Boricua Confidential chronicles my new life as a single mom of two kids after my husband died from cancer on our son’s seventh birthday. Join me on this journey of change, revival, reformation, discovery and new direction ordered of God. Being a widow ain’t easy, that’s for sure. I refuse to rollover and die. Quite the contrary. I intend to thrive from this crazy life. You can’t keep this woman down. If I’m down, I won’t be for long.

God created me to bounce back. Watch me.

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