Jun 24, 2013

when we cause other people to be grateful


"i start to get upset about the small things in life and then i think of you guys and i'm filled with gratefulness for all that i have."

i know what they're trying to say. but what they're trying to say is not what i hear.

"sometimes i think my life is hard but then i think about you and realize that you have it much worse than me. then that makes me grateful for all of the prosperity i have in my own life because at least my life isn't as bad as yours."

that's what i hear.

i try not to hear that, try not to have thoughts that twist someone's intended encouragement.

but it's hard to respond to my husband's suffering when we're told we're a source of someone's gratefulness. because then I walk around thinking that people are looking at us and thanking God, or their version of a god, that they're not as messed up as we are. that inherently makes us a victim.

we want to be driven to thankfulness. but we don't want people to be thankful because they don't have trials "as bad as ours," because some day they might and then that crutch that was built will be gone. that comparison, that "at least its not this," sets our heart on a best case scenario instead of on God, with whom there are no best case scenarios - only sovereignty.

i want to be thankful that we have a god so big even the winds and the waves obey Him. when people see us, i want them to be thankful because they see a god that redeems and upholds and a god that sits on His throne. to derive gratefulness from comparison, to maintain the "there are starving kids in Africa" mentality makes the children a victim or object of pity and sets us up for failure when the starvation comes to our families because of adultery, or car accidents, or heartbreak.

to build our thankfulness on comparison and anything other than God himself will only deprive us of the joy that is to be found in deeply-rooted thanksgiving.

i'm praying that i get to that root myself, because the comparisons i make are a costly habit.

thank you, always
L

47 comments:

Karen Tingen said...

You are so right. Not a good practice to compare and find thankfulness even though I do it privately way too often. I suppose God would rather we find sustenance in Him rather than in the fact that we avoided the disaster of [blank]. I think it's the easy way...to compare rather than find our thankfulness in God Himself.

I am thankful for your writings and for you and Ian.

Anonymous said...

AFter 20 years in a wheelchair, I can totally relate, Larissa. I've tried to joke with others that I don't want to be their "worst case scenario," but it's hard not to be hardened by it. Keep praying and looking to God and remember in Psalm 145 it says he is always kind!

Anna said...

Thank you for this gentle reminder of a beautiful, hard truth. I forget it often.

Alisa said...

Thank you for such wisdom and perspective.

Melody said...

Larissa,
Thank you for this beautiful reminder of truth. Looking to Christ, we can say, "However bad it looks, I still have strength, hope, refuge, and provision in my God who holds all things together." This is enough. Because His Word, His promises, His character, will always stand.

Melody

my_own_clan said...

What sweetness it is to read this from you. I have been praying for you for almost a year now, and thanking the Lord for you as well... but my thankfulness is not borne of comparison, more as solidarity.

I have long been of the opinion that "We all have a sob story." I must acknowledge that each part of the body serves a different function, and all lives are not the same, but... if the Gospel is true, they are all EQUAL. We all far the same amount of short (completely), and the Lord wants the same amount of us (all). His means, and the revelation of his individual grace in our lives is unique in presentation, but not in the ends.

I desire to run well, to encourage others to run well, to be utterly spent as I cross the finish line... to, well... die.

I freely admit that it will cost me everything, and I will STILL get the best part of the bargain.

I am blessed to be running WITH you. I look forward to saying so when we arrive (by his grace and mercy) at our destination.

Jennifer said...

Beautifully said. You have some very wise insights that had not occurred to me before. I will remember to catch myself if I find myself being thankful based on comparison - a costly habit indeed. Thank you.

LaRae said...

I am filled with gratefulness when I look at your life, not because of what I have, but because of what I see in you. The love you have is amazing. You two represent the Gospel message in your every day life together. At the center of your relationship is this gold nugget, a treasure that some people never experience with anyone in their lives, ever. That nugget exists because of God's grace, and it is His grace that gives every moment of this life value. He has poured out His grace on you and as I watch you live within that grace, I am grateful. I am inspired by you because I know that grace covers me, too -- what an amazing, miraculous blessing.

Robyn said...

Hi Larissa, I'm a lurker (sorry!) from when your blog first started. I just wanted to tell you that I've often thought that people reading the story of you and Ian would be envious of the love that you share. Not many people could boast of having that depth of love and the strength of relationship to keep on loving and serving each other despite the difficulties of this life. I don't want to downplay how hard it must be for you both but I do think that you have something beautiful and not many people get that. I hope that might provide a little balance for any comments that sting. God bless you both. Robyn

Deb said...

Thank you for your honesty. It has definitely given me food for thought and reflection today on my source of thanksgiving. God bless.

-t- said...

Beautiful truth.... Always, always we must find ourselves, our every moment, our everything in Him alone.
By His grace!

sjw said...

I identify with your thoughts and your comments L. As we struggle to maintain am active life, it IS sometimes challenging to hear how our lives encourage others. But it also often reminds me that I am doing my current calling, enabling my husband to be a blessing to others.....that we are not isolated in our daily activities of existing and functioning ....that God has a purpose and plan for our lives. It's just now different than what it once was. God has always changed my current situations so I need remain rooted in Him and not in my surroundings, people and places. He always provides!

Jane in TX said...

With God there are no best case scenarios--only sovereignty. How wise! How worth remembering! Thank you for writing & sharing.

Hannah said...

Dear Ian and Larissa,

I think not that you are to be pitied. Although your life surely is in some points very much harder than that of people without a disability, as far as I can see you have blessings in abundance: you have a deep love and appreciation for the gift that is each of you to the other, you have a loving family, and you have faith that gets you through the harder times in life. If you want to compare, you do much better than many people I know :-)Whenever you post pictures here in your blog, I see love shining in your eyes - love for God, love for your spouse, love for your family. I read of Ian painting and selling pictures, of Larissa doing a great job, of you both writing a book together - you´re both talented, wonderful people. Don´t dwell on comments that are shallow and unobservant.

jennypo said...

Larissa, I don't pity you. I envy you. You have a hard life, it's true. But you have a life filled with love. This is what we are all seeking, if we just knew it. Oh, just like everyone else, I spent all my time trying to get easy. But when the truth stands up and stares you down, you know. Easy doesn't compare with worthwhile, rich, resonant. Your life is beautiful. It's full. You have love that most people only dream of. We are just children so dazzled by plastic rings that we can only be disappointed by real gold...but reality isn't changed for all that.

If only we all had what you have.

Lora said...

This post is just full of truth. I'm very guilty of the whole comparison thing.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, I am learning a great deal from you two.

Anonymous said...

Ian and Larissa
Reading this morning and thought this verse may apply to press on and know that even comments that can trouble your soul( cause pain and misunderstanding) work to glorify God and further His purpose in others' lives. This time in your lives and all that surrounds your lives and your story is a light and points both believers and unbelievers to Jesus.
John 12:27-28 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
28 Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
take care
Joe

Jeanne said...

I've followed your blog for awhile but never commented. I've been moved by your love and obedience to God.
During times in my life, I've used the "at least its better than....." and about a year or so ago, it dawned me about what a terrible way to view life and thankfulness. I wish I was better with words to express my thoughts, but one day I realized I shouldn't be thankful bc "at least I'm not starving..." etc. but because of what God has done for me and what I have in him. Its the only way to have true gratefulness because there will always be someone with a better or worse situation that you can either look to to be envious of or look to and be thankful you aren't in that. I hope that made sense, I'm glad you pointed this out, it really resonated with me. Praying for you and Ian today.

Simocha said...

Ouch! Thanks for the reminder. Mostly I'm fascinated by how you and Ian love each other. It's real and honest and not at all a fairy tale. It reminds me and corrects me all at the same time. I am grateful when I read your posts because it reminds me of God's sovereignty and his grace toward us all.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for writing this, it is so true.
I have to remember that my sucky life is not the same as your sucky life and that both of them are ordered and ordained by God.
We have to set our hope firmly in the God who loves us enough to give us His Son.

Sarah cooper said...

Great comments, a bit hard to follow sometimes. When I hear that my trials are worse than others it creates the urge in me to pity myself. And that is an invitation to Satan to come on over. I have spent a long time trying to kick him back out!! Praying that you are better at resisting him than I have been.

Anonymous said...

Well said! You are an inspiration!

Denise said...

The photo of you two is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. I'm so in awe of our God who heals. I'm thankful that He has given you each other. I'm thankful your story encourages me to believe that the Lord will continue to heal the nine broken children we've adopted from Russia. I'm thankful for Ian and Marissa. I'm thankful for our good and all-powerful God.
Denise
Sioux City IA

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wise insight.

thoughtsnthingz said...

This really spoke to my heart. Thanks for that reminder and redirection to our sovereign God - the source of all our hope and comfort!

The Lesters said...

Thank you for this post. As a mom of 3 special needs kids I get the same comments. But at the same time I am tempted to compare myself to others as well. I have been lacking in joy lately and maybe this is part of it. Praising God for both of you and your faithfulness to proclaim his goodness

Anonymous said...

Yes, Larissa. This is something that always bothers me around thanksgiving. It seems most people are basing their thanksgiving on comparisons to those less fortunate. This is however not in line with the kind of thankfulness we are exhorted to in God's Word. I am to give thanks in all circumstances and rejoice that I am made a partaker in the sufferings of Christ. Thank you for this gentle reminder to give thanks based on my faith in the character of God that He is working for my good and his glory in my life.

Deb said...

Yep. Amen.

Kaity said...

Thank you for your insight, Larissa! Your comments have made me rethink several important areas in my life where I was grateful to God based on comparison. I realized that, like you said, "someday...that crutch that was built will be gone." Thank you for redirecting my focus back to where true contentment lies - in Jesus Christ!

ashley said...

I'm just as guilty as you are of this. But please be assured that God is seen intertwined in every detail of your life!

Kristen said...

I think this would be really good to include in your book (maybe you are already including this thought--it would make a good preface). I passed along this post to several of my relatives (we also have a severe disability in our family). It was a very healthy reminder. thank-you for your courage to speak the truth. You have no idea how God is using you to bless others.

Anonymous said...

What those people really mean is "I'm glad that I don't have it as tough as they do...and that God picked them for hardship instead of me, because I'm not sure I could handle it."

You two are no objects of pity. You're two of the most mentally tough people I've heard of. As others have said, that quality and the resulting blessings are things to envy, not to dismiss through putting your situation in a box labeled "Catastrophes that Happen to Others" and locking it away while praying fervently that they never have it as tough as you do.

Anonymous said...

This is rock solid truth........grateful for your words.

Tasmanian said...

When I think you you both, I am humbled by your deep-rooted faith in God, by Larissa's servant heart and Ian's spiritual strength as he serves his wife and as you journey together.

Kristen said...

Comparison is the thief of joy.
-Theodore Roosevelt

here is a link for a printable if you like:
http://www.tamingrapunzel.com/2013/02/comparison-printable.html

Mike said...

I understand what you are saying, and it pains me to think of the many times you have probably been told this. Both of you have been an encouragement to me not because of I'm 'better off' than you, but because I see God's love working through you in huge ways. I don't see either of you as a people to be pitied, but I think, "I want to be like them, and serve the God they do." Although I'm not married yet (nor will by anytime soon), you are near the top of my list of roles models for marriage. Thank you for sharing your lives with others, putting up with less-than-helpful input, and giving glory to God in all of it :)

Elizabeth said...

Larissa, I was just looking at the signature at the bottom of your blog and rejoicing over your married name. Sometimes it's easy to forget how far we've come in the light of daily challenges. Christ has been victorious in your lives!

Julie Leppert said...

Larissa, You do not know me, as I have been following your and Ian's story only since our own family has been attending SovGrace Church, Altoona (about 5 years now). Pray for Ian was one if the first "awarenesses" I had when we started. Who was Ian? It was a bumper sticker on our Pastor's car. Last night I observed Ian and you and Caleb and his sweet wife at the wedding for mutual friends, Jalen and Kelsey. Watching Ian's delight, seeing your attentive care and presence together and observing Caleb's care for Ian was stunningly beautiful. You did not know I was observing. No, not pitying as maybe it feels sometimes when people observe, (yep, I would feel like that, too!!!) but you must know how beautiful together you all were. And then when Ian stood beside his brother upon the dance floor and they both did their own dance-hand wave together, it made me joyously happy for them. I wanted to stretch out my own hand and do the same happy wave, and did! Just dropping in here this morning. May God's care for you both abound in every way each day.

Julie

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this insight. Lately I've been pondering the fact that the greatest gift He gives is Himself. If we have Christ, we have everything, and worldly comparison is irrelevant. Thank you for your words and His wisdom, so very helpful to my heart.

Anonymous said...

Your maturity is amazing and convicting for which I am thankful.

Stephanie Jewell said...

I am thankful for you Ian and Larissa and this blog. I am thankful for your passion of Christ and your deep rooted faith. I hope one day my own faith can be as beautiful as yours xo

Kristen said...

Reading your story makes me grateful not because I think "at least my life isn't as bad as yours" But because I see all the patience and love you have and how I should show that patience and love through my trials at well. That we all need to be thankful for what we have, no matter what our lives are like or what trials are happening in our life, and to approach those trials with peace and love and patience.

Bev said...

I pray for your strength to remain strong and that you remain dedicated to one another and to God who sustains you. That when people look at you two, they will see dedication and love and commitment.

I can understand that the comparison you are describing can be disheartening. Underneath it all though, I think there is a sense of awe that you two are committed in a world that does not require it.

I read your blog because I am inspired by your depth and honesty at such a young age. Also, I love to see Ian's progress and I expect much more to come.

Ellena Vranas said...

I just discovered your blog and the timing of this discovery was priceless for me, especially the blog of this particular date. You are both wise beyond your years. Thank you for putting life in perspective...for reminding us of what is truly important...God's love and living through His glory! You are both an inspiration and I will add you to my daily prayers.

Ben and Katie said...

Wow, you couldn't have said it any better! What I've been feeling for years but just don't know how to put it out there! Thanks for showing me what's in my heart and putting it out there!

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog and am completely inspired and moved by your story. Inspired and encouraged by your and Ian's unconditional love for each other. In today's world of social media it is easy to compare my marriage and life to others. Most people whose lives look great on the outside are very lacking and unhappy on the inside. You are genuine and a breath of fresh air. I am inspired to model my marriage after yours. Prayers and love.

Dee Sutton said...

Larissa,
I found your and Ian's story by accident the other day. But I know it was not by accident. Each day that I have had time, I have gone back thru and read some of your blog posts, to know more of your story. Its truly been an inspiration.
And I am not sure if you will read this comment, but I want to tell you, you have so much to be thankful for, not just for the life you have, and the love you have, but the life lessons that you get to teach others, that they might not learn any other way. You see in another week, my best friends husband, who was my hubbys best friend, and also my boss a few years ago, died of a brain tumour. He was fit, healthy, a marathon runner, and then all of a sudden he had a brain tumour, cancer, and all the things that come with that. And we watched our dear friend go from being who he was, to disabled. And I still think about it. I think about disability in such a different way to what I did before. I think of the words of Jesus, I think of Loving unconditionally, and I also remember that the person inside the body of my friend has not changed, his spirit is the same.....even if the body is failing him.
You have soooo much to be thankful for! Ian is in your life, he is here, and there is so much love to enjoy. From what I can see, you are both fighters, and that teachers others perseverance. I am inspired. And I will be praying for you both, as you step forward to achieve Goals, and dreams for your future. Thank you for being an inspiration, both of you!