Does life frustrate you sometimes? Me too. Often times it’s the smallest of things that frustrate me most. Like when I just vacuumed and steamed my kitchen and my son throws all of his food on the ground. But hey! That’s life… and parenting. Like I said it’s the small things.
But I have a good life. A really good life. I’m blessed with an amazing wife who somehow puts up with my shenanigans. I have a son who fills my heart with joy (even if he does throw his food on the recently cleaned floor). I have an amazing job working with some incredible people. I have a house in a community that I love. I have enough food (some say I have more than enough). Despite all these blessings I can get weighed down by negativity. It’s pretty silly, but it is reality.
I recently went to Haiti with 9 other members from FPC Ambler. It was an incredible trip. The weeks leading up to the trip I had one prayer constantly going through my mind. My prayer was asking the Lord to open my heart. I had heard from people who have gone on previous trips to Haiti to expect the horrific conditions in which people live. I was prepared. No one should experience what I saw, let alone live through it daily.
What I didn’t expect, though, was the joy that radiated through them. Seriously. Their joy was palatable. It wasn’t just because the community of Port Salut was getting a chance at clean water. It was literally every Haitian. I was in shock. If I were in their situation I can promise you I would be a curmudgeon. I wouldn’t smile. I would be angry. I would be bitter.
But every Haitian I interacted with was just unbelievably happy. They didn’t have much. Okay let’s be realistic – they practically had nothing. Even some of the Haitian workers we hired only had slides on their feet – which when building a concrete building is less than ideal. Still not one single complaint.
The only way I can describe it is every Haitian lived with a spirit of simple gratitude. They didn’t have much, but what they had they cherished. One day I was talking to one of the Haitians during some down time during the work day. When I said what impressed me most was the joy that emanated from the Haitian people despite all circumstances.
He said, “Yes! Exactly! Because we believe all we have is given from God. We know and trust in God’s plan for us.” He went on to say in America there are many people who commit suicide and that is so sad. In Haiti, there is practically no suicide rate because we believe what we have is given to us by God.”
This is what it means to have simple gratitude. The understanding and acceptance that all we have is given to us by God. All of it. Whether you have a lot or a little, it comes from the Lord. When you embody this spirit of simple gratitude it changes how you see and interact with the world. It takes the pressures off of your shoulders. It enables you to live life with a sense of freedom. It stops you from getting frustrated over the silly mundane things that are so trivial.
This is the lesson the Lord taught me while serving in Haiti. Simple gratitude. If you are thinking about going or you’ve been on the fence, just do it. Take a leap of faith. You will see what I’m talking about and your life will never be the same.