My granddaughter likes to play with three blocks of wood that are stacked in a prominent, reachable surface at my house. When she left after a recent visit, I noticed she left one upside down.
I like it.
Upside down gratitude is something I’m learning about more and more. It’s learning to be grateful when everything seems upside down and disorienting. It’s having a grounded gratitude that provides perspective.
It isn’t easy.
Yes, we can always find something good in our lives. We can notice situations more challenging than ours. But gratitude isn’t about comparison. We can choose gratitude within the circumstance. It doesn’t mean we don’t also experience the weight and pain of what is happening. Gratitude is not ignoring the truth of what is happening. It is trusting God to orient us and accepting his invitation to glimpse his perspective and purpose.
Upside down gratitude is not a simple claim that all will work out someday. It’s not even a quick feel-good reminder of God’s truth that he is working all things out for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) or that he has a purpose in all things. Indeed, he is always working, always good, and always purposeful. But there is a lot of junk in the world that wreaks havoc on our relationships, faith, and hope. And phrases (even if true) that are intended to encourage us can easily remind us of how overwhelmed and difficult life is right now.
Upside down gratitude digs deeper. It is those very truths of God planted so deeply that they nourish us from the inside and shine outward even when we cannot feel them or muster strength to move forward in them. Upside down gratitude is a pin point of light, a beginning of focus, a willingness to open our eyes or take a shuffle or stumble step.
I want to live with upside down gratitude. I don’t like the process of becoming familiar with it, but that’s okay. The journey with God takes a lot of trust that, in my experience, takes each step of “not okay” to a place of healing and beauty.