Have you ever noticed how some people get sweeter with age and others get more contrary and hard to be around? This truth was brought home to me in a personal way in the past month.
An older lady I know used to be so much fun when I was growing up. We eagerly looked forward to spending time with her, knowing there would be a lot of laughter. For years she was the same fun person to be around. Then things began to change. To be fair, she was slammed with some hard trials--the death of her husband and the death of one of her children--and she was unable to climb out of the valley the events left her in. Instead of being an encouragement, she began to complain about everyone in her life. Little by little, it became a chore to visit with her. She's in hospice now and I need to go see her but I'm dreading it. Mostly I'm dreading remembering how she used to be and wishing she was like that again.
I contrast her with my good friend from church, Terry Carpenter. He'd been in a wheelchair for years after a car accident. But I never once heard him complain. He always thought of others, always prayed for the ones he loved and everyone he met. When a melanoma spread to his liver and he knew he only had weeks to live, he still didn't complain. His concern was for everyone else. He stepped into eternity a few weeks ago, and I'm sure I heard the angels greet him with joy.
What made the difference? I think it's because of the issue of thankfulness. Terry could have chosen to hate his life and his dependence on others. He could have blamed other people for his plight. But he held everything with an open hand. He relied on God and turned to Him for all his needs and was thankful for whatever came his way--good and bad.
I was thinking about prayer today and how sometimes we're so disappointed or disillusioned when God says no to our requests. But the reality is that while prayer might not change the situation we're in, it changes US. When we pray and truly turn things over to God, we let go of the bitterness and anger that can ruin our lives and our character. We know he will work things out for our good. We can choose to let our trials make us bitter and resentful or we can be thankful for every good thing in our lives.
I know the kind of person I want to be when I'm old. (Denise, I saw that lifted brow! I admit I'm middle aged now at 60 but I'm not old yet.) :) So I want to strive every day to be thankful. If we are thankful, we will still be encouraging others on our final day before we step into God's presence.
How about you? Have you seen this in your own relationships with people? What are you thankful for today? I'm thankful for my great husband. He's a constant in my life and shows love and care for me every day.