It sure was hot and humid, on that memorable September evening just a little over 10 years ago…
(But then again, it seems like EVERY evening is hot and humid in Southeast Texas! 😉 )
I’d been living down there for about a year and a half, serving as a missionary for my church. Y’know the ones I’m talking about, right? Those crazy young men who ride their bikes all over the place, dressed in white shirts and ties — knocking on your door at the most inopportune time?
Yep, that was me.
And like I said, it was HOT (90+ degrees, if my memory hasn’t failed me) and it was HUMID! My companion and I had been pedaling our enthusiastic little hearts out all day, trying to share the Good Word of God with people, but to no avail.
We’d had doors slammed in our faces. Literally slammed — one lady shut the door so hard, it knocked her big old Texas star wreath right off the front door and onto the porch.
We’d also gotten yelled at by random people — like that guy who was shouting obscenities at us from the passenger window of his buddy’s truck as we were pedaling from one neighborhood to another. Dang near gave me a heart attack, coming up from behind us like that!
And did I mention the mosquitoes? Some of ’em were big enough to carry away small children…
What I’m really trying to say is that we’d been met with rejection after rejection, all day long. Heck, even the dogs seemed to be in league against us!
And so there we were, at the end of a long, hot, and tiring day, walking slowly up the steps of the Stamey family’s front porch. (They were members of our church and had invited us to eat dinner with them that night.) Our shoulders were slumped and our heads were down as we knocked on the door of their cozy little trailer, but no one answered.
We knocked again.
No one answered.
And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back…
I’d like to think of myself as a pretty cheerful person most of the time. I try to stay upbeat and positive no matter the circumstances. Roll with the punches and all that. But on that hot September evening, I felt beaten. We both did.
In fact, instead of getting back on our bikes to grab a bite to eat at our apartment, we both just plopped down on the Stameys’ rickety old porch swing — and there we stayed. For maybe 15 minutes we just sat there. We didn’t talk. We didn’t swing. We. Just. Sat.
Finally, after sitting there, wallowing in my own self pity for awhile, I looked up and noticed that the western sky was starting to get a little color to it, and I said (to no one in particular): “I’m grateful for sunsets.”
My companion raised his head and looked at me for a minute, and then he nodded and said, “I’m grateful for this porch swing.”
I’ll never forget what happened next…
The two of us went back and forth, over and over again, naming one thing after another that we were grateful for. And wouldn’t you know it? Before long, we were happy and hopeful and energized again!
It actually ended up being one of the most memorable nights of my entire mission — not because of anything particularly good that happened, but rather, because of the spirit of gratitude that had awakened in our hearts!
Boy, I tell ya! There really is POWER in gratitude! Especially when you make the effort to actually express it!
That’s why it’s become kind of a yearly tradition of mine to share one “Gratitude Rant” every day in the month of November (up until Thanksgiving Day, anyway).
Last year I posted my rants on Facebook. This year I’ll post them on this blog.
But don’t expect anything too profound — most of my rants from here on out will probably just be a short snippet of something that happened to me during the day; maybe a tender mercy I’ve experienced.
As for today, I’m grateful for GRATITUDE!