My friend Karen was babysitting her great grandson, Carter. Carter, age 4, is an active and busy boy, so after lunch, Karen – G.G. to Carter — was ready for a little break. She suggested that they each choose a book and a favorite blanket and take a nap.
They cuddled up in Karen’s big bed, but pretty soon Carter had wiggled his way under the covers to the foot of the bed. A few minutes later he was sideways at the top of the bed, and Karen was fast losing hope that he would ever settle down for a nap. Finally, Carter snuggled beside her and opened his book.
A few minutes later, he looked up at Karen and said, “Life doesn’t get any better than this, G.G.” Karen most certainly had to agree.
A few years ago, when I first began the parent-caregiving cycle of my life, my days were consumed by the needs of my mother-in-law, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As the disease progressed, I felt myself sinking into a state of hopelessness. To deal with my mother-in-law’s extreme neediness and my father-in-law’s angry despair became a weight almost beyond my ability to carry. Each morning when I woke up, my first thought was, “Oh no, not another day.”
Initially, my prayers were for relief, and God provided caregivers who were able to come in a few hours each week and friends who helped buoy my spirits, but eventually I realized that my true problem was more than just the workload, it was my attitude. As my freedom and then my writing career gradually slipped away from me, I became bitter, frustrated, and even angry. My determination to smile, buck up, and forge ahead enabled me to present a good façade, but it didn’t do much to lift my sadness and eliminate my resentment.
Finally one morning as I took that dreaded walk from my house to my in-law’s house, God sent a little bird — just an ordinary brown wren — to deliver a beautiful serenade. I suddenly felt my heart fill with gratitude.
After that, each morning I asked God to open my eyes to life’s small blessings, and I began a journey of amazement at the intense difference a quiet moment of gratitude could make in my life.
A few weeks ago, when one of my friends first shared Carter’s sweet story, I felt that same overflow of joy and gratitude. What’s more inspiring than a little child who already understands that small blessings are some of God’s greatest gifts?
Thank you for the inspiration, Carter, and thank you for the reminder. You’re right. Life doesn’t get any better than this!