The gift of gratitude is sometimes hard to feel. How can a person be grateful for the lessons they are learning from an illness, homelessness or a horrible war situation? How can a child feel grateful if their mommy dies? How can a person feel grateful for the heartache caused when their companion no longer wants them? I’ve watched people overcome some of the hardest experiences in life when life has not been fair because they choose to be grateful. I’ve watched as some of my friends and family members have walked toward the end of their life with courage and joy in their hearts; I’ve also watched friends and loved ones walk toward the end of their lives feeling so dark, depressed and alone. Some can realize that suffering death is one of the last tests to help them learn patience and self-mastery and they can be grateful for the many joyous times they had.
Life can be so difficult at times but personal growth usually comes from the most difficult situations we want to run from. Hard experiences can stimulate growth, understanding and compassion for others. Hard experiences are like the heat that melts metal into its final strength. Swords are made by heating and pounding on ore until it forms into a very strong weapon. Weapons are usually created with the purpose to protect our families and friends. Weapons are also used to hurt and kill; or they can be used to force many good people into lives of service to kings they don’t want to serve.Boys and girls of all ages, I’ve thought about the strengths we develop in life. We can use those strengths for good or bad. Our strengths are like the sword. We can move forward to protect and love the people around us during hard times or we can choose to go through life holding on to painful experiences and use them against our friends and families. If the strengthening heat grows too hot we may feel angry, hurt, dark and alone. It’s a choice to stand tall or slither away when we have bad times in life. Isn’t it great to understand we always have a choice? I hope we can choose to stand tall! I hope you wake up every morning with gratitude in your heart even if the dark clouds of life are gathering around you. Gratitude makes us stronger!