Jordan K. Woodard
I was talking with a friend earlier tonight, catching up about how things have been since I returned from Costa Rica about a week ago. She recounted to me some painful things going on in her relationship with her dad that are very parallel to some of my own personal experiences.
I certainly had the words of the book, Attitudes of Gratitude, in mind when I was chatting with her today, and this book has brought some very much needed insight and compounding wisdom. (I should mention that whenever I read any spiritual, philosophical book, its words tend to overflow into my ordinary conversation.) We did not talk long, but for the words that we exchanged I definitely got a less despairing sense in her tone. As I listened and shared, M.J. Ryan words ebbed from my subconscious:“Forgiveness leads to gratitude, and not just gratitude in general but, in a beautifully healing movement, to an outpouring of appreciation for the very things that caused such pain in the first place. Thus is our suffering redeemed.”
I was a guest blogger once again for Laced with Grace and provided an account, this grave breed of gratitude in action; and in my account I reflected upon my experiences abroad. I cannot quite put my finger on just what it is exactly about this book. Whatever it is, though, it has gotten me wrapped up and feeling a sense of wholeness and renewed sensitivity all over again. I felt like I lost that for quite some time even though some of my friends have been convinced for months now that I am Mother Teresa incarnate.
These past few days I felt the pull to make it an absolute priority to send my gratitude to all those who had helped me lest I got ensnared by the pain of the negative experiences I endured while out of the country. Had it not been for this conscious decision then I would have completely forgotten about each and every one of the positive influences in my life–the people who supported me, the people who did their best to do right and be there when others were not, the people who made the entire trip possible.
I admitted to my friend that I struggle with just keeping in touch which is why I have done my best to find creative ways to reach out. For instance, when I log into Facebook I have a self-governing standard that I will not post statuses with the exception of important news (i.e. the fact that I had returned to the U.S. after my study abroad experience was over).
One of my favorite practices is thinking of a name many of my friends have in common and then tagging all the Jasmines, for example, and saying the things I love about each individual. All in all, if I ever feel limited enough to ask ‘how have you been?’ I push myself a bit further to see what has been already posted on his or her profile. That is the reason why we have Facebook profiles to begin with, is it not?
M.J. Ryan does not negate the gravity of the pain experienced by individuals in an effort to emphasize the necessity of living in a joyous state of gratitude. She contrarily makes it clear that some of the blinders of the pain can come off when–in forgiveness and acknowledgement of wrongdoing–gratitude overtakes, because gratitude begets forgiveness which in turn beget gratitude. It is perhaps the simplest recipe for true, eradicating healing; and I think I have forgotten the simplest things recently.
With a count of just over 500 friends added to my Facebook profile, I have that many to love and more.