I like to combine altitude with gratitude when I feel sad or worried. "Help, I'm losing 'graltitude,' " I pray. This reminds me that it's very hard to be in a nosedive toward the blues when I'm feeling grateful.
One Saturday I realized there wasn't any food in the house for the weekend. No money in the bank, no food in the fridge, and plenty of bills on my shelf. My daughter was very young, and I didn't know what to tell her or how to feed her.
I picked up my Bible and began to read a story in Genesis about a time when a woman named Hagar was in the wilderness and ran out of water for herself and her son. She sat down and began to cry. An angel of God helped her see that there was a well of water close by - maybe she hadn't been able to see it while she was busy crying (see Genesis, Chap. 21). You might say she had lost her graltitude.
After I read that story, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. The mail came, and there was a check that normally wasn't sent until the middle of the month. Here it was, in my hand at the beginning of the month. Not a large check, but plenty to dash to the bank and cash in order to have food in the house for the weekend.
Later, when I was telling this story to a friend, I mentioned that I was only sorry the amount wasn't large enough to pay some bills as well. Kindly, my friend suggested I expand my gratitude for this incident. She referred me to a passage in a book I had just begun to study, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Its author and the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, had experienced periods of poverty herself. She wrote: "Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more" (pg. 3).
I could see I still needed to adjust my spiritual altitude. The piles of bills at that time represented only depletion to me; the more I paid out, the less I had. Something was wrong with this picture. My paycheck wasn't the only wealth I had. I had the riches of knowing it was the right thing to do to pay a debt - honesty. And I had the wealth of love to make me want to pay the debt - gratitude. So I tried to be happy for what each bill I paid represented. For example, I loved my car and being able to drive from place to place, I would think as I made a car payment. I loved being able to turn on the lights and read my daughter to sleep each night, I would think as I paid my electric bill. My attitude was gaining altitude.
The happier I was to make each payment due on my bills, the easier it was to look forward to doing it, instead of dreading it as a task that would result in my having less money. My ability to pay bills took on creative solutions as different avenues opened up to meet each need I had. I accepted a part-time position to be a chauffeur driver of antique Austin Princess cars. I didn't do this often, but the first time I did, the tip was $100! This was unexpected, and the work wasn't a hardship for me.
Also, I accepted a weekly job of shopping and preparing a meal for someone who couldn't cook. This didn't take me from my family. It gave me a financial boost and was also something I loved to do.
I learned to watch as God directed my actions each day and gave me just what was needed whenever a debt was due.
My financial situation is more stable now, but I still get joy and peace of mind by paying attention to graltitude.
Happy is he that hath
the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his
God: which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever: which executeth judgment for
the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry.... The Lord
preserveth the strangers;
he relieveth the fatherless
and widow ....
Praise ye the Lord.
Psalms 146:5-7, 9, 10
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor