16 June 2010

ruthless trust :: number two

Gratitude. At first blush, I didn't understand what the relationship between trust and gratitude could be. But that's precisely what Manning talks about in the second chapter of Ruthless Trust. I don't want to spoil the book for those of you who haven't read it and want to, but so much of this is too good not to share!

Manning explains, " ... the person with an abiding spirit of gratitude is the one who trusts God.

And he continues, "The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness. Gratitude arises from the lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all of life as grace -- as an undeserved and unearned gift from the Father's hand. Such recognition is itself the work of grace, and acceptance of the gift is implicitly an acknowledgment of the Giver." (pp. 24-25)

I love how he doesn't waste any time, but goes straight for the jugular vein of your soul.

I considered this is relationship to our present circumstances. Over the last four or so weeks, I have experienced many moments of profound gratitude. I woke up early this past Saturday morning, just as the light was starting to creep through the blinds of our bedroom window. My husband was asleep beside me, and I put my hands on my belly and felt Ewan squirming around in there. I looked around the bedroom of our new apartment, a space for which we have a profound appreciation (if you had seen our first apartment, you'd understand) and considered the mountains rising up outside, veiled by the bedroom blinds, covered in evergreen trees. This place is so quiet, and feels so far away from the things that make people stressed, harried, and anxious. In that moment, I was deeply grateful for everything right around me: for a man who loves me more than I knew was possible, for this baby who is uniquely ours, for where we live, and for every painful and blissful experience that brought us to this place. All things considered, I knew in a deep, deep way how profoundly blessed we are.

And I was so grateful.

But honestly, I have had moments where I've done my share of grumbling, whether or not anyone has heard them out loud. I have had those moments where I lamented this was happening to us. I didn't want to be the exception. I didn't want people to pity us. I didn't want to give up the birthing experience I have hoped and planned for. I didn't want people to think, "Oh, poor Ewan!" Whine whine whine. Grumble grumble grumble.

I wasn't grateful for what was happening. I wasn't trusting the role this experience might play in something far greater, something that I do not have the foresight to see. I wasn't considering that blessings that will come and that, in truth, have already come as a result of what we have learned about Ewan's heart.

Manning quotes another favorite author of mine, the late Henri Nouwen from his work Bread for the Journey:

"To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives -- the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections -- that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God."
Henri Nouwen, qtd. in Manning (p. 31)

And so I am grateful -- for James, for Ewan, and for his broken heart. I am grateful for what this little one is teaching me already. I am grateful for every moment of this pregnancy, for every kick and nudge and roll, for learning to feel and know acutely just how very delicate life is. I'm grateful for the support and encouragement that has been poured out on us. I'm so grateful that so many others love my little bean before he's even born. I'm grateful for the space I live in, for a place to write, and for the grace to know -- to really, really know -- that whether in the midst of profound ecstasy or excruciating pain (or anywhere in between), God is good.

Now it's your turn. Yesterday you told me about those things and moments in your life in which you learned to trust. It was such a gift to me to hear your stories and to learn from you how you've been shaped by those crucible moments in your life. And now I want to know: What are you grateful for right now? What makes you rise up and say thank you?


  1. I've been here...
    I'll be back ... promise.

    and I am grateful for you.

  2. I agree with Deb... grateful for you.

    And grateful for so many other things as well. I'm incredibly blessed. With a great marriage. With beautiful and PERFECT children. With a God who constantly pulls me to Him. With mentors. And friends. And life.

  3. This was good to read. When I came to the part about being thankful even for the failures though.. I kind of cringed. I hate my failures and have a hard time getting past them, so trying to think of being thankful for them is totally foreign to me. Totally.

    I'm thankful for my salvation. Without it I would have lost all hope a long time ago, but Jesus saw how much I needed him. ..And he has stayed with me through every thing. I'm thankful for my husband, who is more than I ever could have hoped for. I'm thankful for our son, who is a little ball of sunshine. And all the other ways God pours out his grace on me daily, too many to name.

    I'm so glad you're sharing.
    love & prayers

  4. Today, I'm grateful for the man who makes up the other have of my daughter's gene pool, for how he loves and how hard he works and his deep, wide heart. And I'm thankful that God have given us the means to care for her, even when things don't look the way we want them to. And for her little soul, growing and changing every single day. Finally, for the God who knows us all and holds us anyway.

  5. ARGH! I am NOT thankful for blogger deleting my comments. Maybe I should work on that ;)

    I AM thankful for the man who makes up the other half of my daughter's gene pool, for how much he loves us both and how hard he works and for his deep, wide heart. I'm thankful that we can provide for her, even when it's not how we wish it to be. And I'm thankful for her little soul, growing and changing every single day. Finally, for the God who knows us all and loves us anyway.

  6. I'm thankful for new directions emerging out of what seemed like ashes. For big mugs of tea, and being wrapped in a warm blanket on terribly rainy days while I sit and study. For new dreams. For friends that are really family. For spiritual parents. For shared hearts. For the way all of these things have come from the moment where I almost stopped trusting God because it just didn't make any sense anymore, and my world had fallen apart.

  7. gratitude equating trust...i remember nouwen's words as they jumped off the page to me last year when i first read them.

    and i do find myself grateful...for my gracious Lord who knows me and meets me, for the gift of my husband who walks beside me and loves me so well. for colorado in the summertime with green exploding everywhere. and honestly, for having the chance to be pregnant and be home to a baby even for a short time.

  8. Deb
    And I, for you.

    *hug to you too!!*
    I love how you love your children, I love how you love and cherish your husband and your marriage.
    And yes ... LIFE.

    Thanks for sharing. :o)

    I know what you mean at the part about failures. There are some things from years and years ago that I just can't get over. And yet I also see how God has used those things to bring me to where I am now. Even so, it doesn't erase the sting I feel when I remember.

    I love how you love your husband and son!! I love how you celebrate what you have, what God has given you and how you're continually looking and open to see where He's at work.

    I'm thankful for you, and for sharing.

    It's so clear that you and Dave have something incredibly special together, and that you both love your daughter wildly. I love how you embrace all of it, even as you're walking through a season as you are right now.

    Love you.

    May I say: I'm grateful that you found this space, and that you're here, and that I can get the chance to know you now? I love how you see, how you hear, and how you notice the blessing in what is right around you. So, so many people miss that. I love that you cherish even the simplest of pleasures, recognizing that these are gifts from God as well.

    I love how you're thankful for and cherish what so many overlook: for a loving husband, for the place you live, and even for something that's proved to be painful -- the child who was with you for a time, the one you never got to hold. I do so hope and pray there will come a time on earth when that pain can be so perfectly redeemed for you.


  9. Someone asked me yesterday if I would have changed anything about my story, done anything differently, made changes to some parts of my life sooner than I did. I didn't know how to answer. Because the truth is, if I had done things differently, my story wouldn't be what it is. I wouldn't have experienced the love and provision of God in the ways I did, I wouldn't have inhabited the corners of my story that I really, really loved in the aftermath of some of those other stories that were hard, and I wouldn't eventually have found Kirkum.

    So even though some parts of my story are hard, and even though I wish sometimes that I had been wiser and stronger in lieu of scared and immature ... God's grace abounds, has abounded, and continues to abound.

    PS: I loved reading that moment when you awoke and felt such gratitude for that perfect moment in time. I could feel the peace and beauty of it for you.

  10. @Christianne
    I loved that you shared this, and that your heart is to be thankful for all the pieces of your journey that have brought you to where you are now. The fact that you are able, even with the memory of your wounds still fresh, to experience such unbounded grace in response is such a beautiful thing to behold.

    Thank you. Much love.