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  • Writer's pictureEllen Romer Niemiec

An Act of Hope

I imagine I will be 90 years old and still clearly hear my dad’s voice: ‘An attitude of gratitude.’ Especially during my teen years, I would often respond with an eye roll. As I grow deeper into my adulthood, this sentiment resonates more and more deeply. It helps draw me back to and ground me in a few fundamental truths: God is good, God’s love is ever-abundant, and all God’s creation is inherently good.

Gratitude, especially the effort of seeking the good, feels especially challenging amid the weight of this year. Expressing gratitude always runs the risk of passing over the difficulties and ignoring grief. How can gratitude be an act of true hope, of recognizing where God’s grace is bubbling up around me?

Among the gifts I am trying to recognize in myself is that people are complex and contain multitudes. I can hold the good things that have come amid the chaos and suffering and still hold that grief and frustration that has been almost constant for months. I can shine light on the gifts and struggles and bring everything out into the light to see what is taking up the most space and clouding my view of God without simply ignoring it.

In pulling my griefs into the light, I found myself returning to the question of ‘Why?’ The question started to settle more specifically - “Why did you make me as I am?” I couldn’t see my gifts as gifts, only as hurdles or problems. I have been doing the opposite of what gratitude is supposed to help me do - see God and God’s creation as good. While my heart is still struggling to hold it all, I had to start shining light on it, to begin to see it all as God might.

My Litany of Gratitude:

God, thank you for filling my mind with questions, for every ‘why’ I speak aloud, that I may not lose sight of You.

Thank you for my stubbornness and insistence upon good.

Thank you for my desire to cultivate a listening heart, to strive to always be better for those I encounter.

Thank you for my frustration and tears, that others may live out their call to care and listen.

Thank you for my thick-skinned moments, that I may continue to find resilience and resist that which is not of you, Lord.

Thank you for my sensitive moments, when the tears can’t be stopped, that I may never become calloused to the suffering of the world.

Thank you for the moments I begin to lose my temper with my children, that I may find a way to model patience, second chances and self-compassion.

Thank you, Lord...

What is your Litany of Gratitude? What in your life or in yourself needs a little more light on it? What has been more difficult to see as good? What do you need to help hold the gifts and struggles in your own life?

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