Gratitude Changes Everything
Point to Ponder:
What area(s) or relationships in your life can use some gratitude?
Just one week ago, myself and 15 San Diego friends (some part of our iGnite San Diego community) completed the Susan G Komen 3-Day Walk. We began walking at 6:30a.m. Friday morning and our 60-mile journey was complete by 3:00p.m. Sunday.
While I know breast cancer is prevalent and effects so many people, aside from my stepmom being diagnosed when I was a Freshman in college (and thankfully is a survivor) I did not have personal connection to it, and I have never felt a strong desire to walk. However, that all changed last December when one of our iGnite San Diego members, while pregnant with her third child, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Upon her diagnosis I immediately knew I wanted to walk and celebrate her victory over cancer. I had no doubt she would beat it. In fact, she is cancer-free and in April she delivered a healthy and precious baby boy! She's finishing up her final round of radiation but that didn't stop her from walking all 60 miles and regularly iGniting throughout her treatment. She's a warrior! One day I'll share the literal "Stronger Together" miracles that took place within our iGnite San Diego community that attributed to her getting a prompt diagnosis, excellent oncology care as well as endless love and support. However, for the sake of today I'm going to share about the walk, and the overwhelming gratitude, joy, love, hope, and happiness atmosphere that enveloped the 60-mile journey.
Aside from hearing from friends that the experience was indescribable, I didn't have an expectation. I assumed it would be special, memorable, sad at times and powerful, but I really hadn't given it much thought. I didn't walk train and met my fundraising goal at the last minute, and honestly, with the holidays and end of the year approaching, it became more of a commitment that hovered over my head and that I just needed to cross off my list BUT, my expectations were crushed and it was one of the most beautiful displays of community and humanity I've ever seen, along with the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation Run to the Sun.
What could've easily been an overwhelmingly sad and solemn event, was everything but that. After all, in 2019 an estimated 331,530 people are diagnosed with breast cancer and 42,260 of them are estimated to lose their lives in 2019. Mothers lose their daughters. Daughters lose their mothers and even fathers. Husbands lose their wives and wives even lose their husbands. Siblings lose siblings and friends lose friends. Thankfully this number is decreasing every year. Aside from the tears that followed stories of those who have lost their lives, the 3 days were nothing but gratitude, hope, joy, happiness and love.
Throughout the weekend there were people of all colors, shapes, sizes, ages and gender. There were survivors, family members and friends of survivors, family members and friends to those who lost their lives, and so many more whys. One such person was George. George is 87 years old and from Michigan. George began walking after September 11, 2001, when President George W. Bush recommended the best way to make a difference was to get involved in our communities. George has walked every year since. He fundraises $2300/walk and travels all over to walk in the different cities.
Then, there was the man in pink camo, who was always at our pit-stops, cross walks and giving us high-fives. When asked what his connection to the 3-Day Walk was he said his sister is a 15-year survivor. He has walked 7 years and volunteered the other 8. Very often the streets were lined with cheer-stations, people dancing, passing out candy, in costume, holding up signs, sitting outside of their homes and businesses just to cheer us on and make us laugh and feel appreciated. They even dressed dogs up in costume--all for our entertainment. As we would pass they would say, “Thank you for walking!” and we would follow up with, “Thank you for cheering!” It was a giant gratitude/love fest!
I believe gratitude is what makes the Susan G Komen 3-Day Walk so joyful, and I do believe that gratitude changes everything. Otherwise, how could it be that something that negatively affects so many lives can be turned into an event that's so wonderful, happy and joy-filled It's gratitude! Gratitude for the walkers, gratitude for the cheer stations, gratitude for the volunteers, gratitude for Susan G. Komen, gratitude for the people who donated, gratitude for the people who showed up just because they care, gratitude for those who walk as a way to honor their loved one(s) they lost, gratitude for those walking with breast cancer and gratitude for all the survivors who bravely fought and are currently fighting.
Gratitude can change a marriage, a job, any relationship, and your life. Personally, at times, gratitude has changed my marriage, as not enough of it can be a marriage breaker, whereas enough of it can be a marriage builder. You know how it goes: when we're frustrated it's easy to focus on what they are not doing vs. what are doing. At times, gratitude it has turned my resentful heart into one of appreciation and thankfulness.
Gratitude can also change an annoying and challenging situation. The key is: rather than fixate on the challenge, wish it were different or stay ticked because it’s unfair, the trick is flipping it on its head and meeting it with a gratitude and an appreciation statement. It works like this. Say: “Thank you for the opportunity to grow, get better, and learn something that I need to learn.”
My coach and iGnite Austin member, Martha Lynn Mangum, taught me that little trick and I recently passed it along to Russell (my husband), as coaching 18-22 year old college basketball players comes with some frustration, as I know being married to me does too. On more than one occasion he has told me that this gratitude statement has made a significant mindset shift for him, and rather than his frustration turning into anger, negativity, hopelessness and more complaining, the statement completely changes his energy, attitude and outlook into one of positivity, productivity and growth. Ultimately, gratitude moves us from being a victim, and turns us into the person who lives in abundance, is empowered and fully equipped for everything we need and have. Gratitude Change Everything!
Determine one relationship or person in your life that needs the healing powers of gratitude, and let that person know the thing(s) you are most grateful for about them. Or, next time you are met with a challenging or frustrating situation, rather than fixate on it and become more frustrated, use the gratitude statement and thank the situation or person for the opportunity and gift of growth.
Gracious God, Thank you. Thank you for the daily opportunities to meet challenging people, situations and opportunities with gratitude. Open our hearts Lord, and reveal any frustration, resentment or ungrateful attitudes that are harmful to our relationships and our lives. Please fill our hearts with forgiveness and gratitude and restore all that needs to be restored. Help us to meet each day, person and opportunity with gratitude first. Thank you for the blessings of health, family, friendship, food, and the warmth of our homes. Thank you for gift of community. In Your Perfect Name. Amen